Spotted Doves are mostly light brown above, with darker centres to the feathers of the back and wings. The head is grey, and the neck and underparts are grey-brown, tinged with pink. In flight the white-tipped tail is clearly seen. The distinguishing feature is the large black collar on the base of the hind-neck, which has many white spots. Sexes are similar in plumage. Young Spotted Doves are similar to adults, but have a mostly dark grey collar instead of black and white.
There is another, closely related dove that has been introduced to Australia - the Laughing Dove, S. senegalensis, found in the south-western corner of Western Australia. It is slightly smaller, measuring around 25 cm - 27 cm. The Laughing Dove also lacks the black and white collar, instead having a black and copper-brown patch on the base of the throat.
The Spotted Dove is native to eastern Asia. It was introduced into Australia in the mid-1800s and early 1900s and quickly became established. It is now a common sight throughout eastern Australia, and around the major towns and cities in southern and south-western Australia.
The Spotted Dove is common around human habitation and can easily be seen in parks, gardens and agricultural areas.
Some birds stay in the same area all year round, while others move around local areas.
Spotted Doves feed on grains, seeds and scraps. The birds are seen alone or in small flocks, feeding mostly on the ground. Some seeds may be taken in trees and bushes, and birds often enter animal houses, such as chicken coops, to feed on the commercial food.
Spotted Doves breed at any time of the year, but most activity is from September to December. The male performs a display flight, which consists of a steep rising flight with loud wing-clapping. Once the bird reaches a height of about 30 or 40 m above the ground, he then spreads his tail and wings and glides down to a perch. Males also court by walking in front of the female with the black and white neck patch fluffed up while bowing the head up and down.
The nest is a loose platform of sticks, which may be placed in a variety of locations. Both sexes share the incubation of the eggs and the rearing of the chicks.
Living with us
The Spotted Dove was first introduced to Melbourne in the 1860s and there have been several subsequent releases to other Australian cities. It readily consumes bird seed and bread, as well as feeding on the seeds of weeds. The species has not spread far from urban areas, probably because of a lack of suitable food.