The exotic doves of Virden

In Virden and other prairie towns, pigeons and mourning doves are common sights. But this beautiful and exotic dove species came a very long way to get here and it took centuries.

Originally from India, Eurasian Collared-Doves spread through Europe, were introduced to the Caribbean, migrated to Florida and have been expanding their range northward ever since. They are a little bigger than the Mourning Dove and a pale tan and white colour with a distinctive black neck band.

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They’ve been in the Virden area ten years or more, breeding and expanding their ranks although the species is vulnerable to extreme cold and predators.

My neighbour has been feeding the doves for years, and with her encouragement they’ve made our block their home base and nesting grounds. This bird doesn’t migrate, so Virden’s small population is visible all year round.

We lost several last year to what we believe was a hungry hawk and feared the whole colony was wiped out but they returned and resettled.

The Bird Atlas of Manitoba says, “Eurasian Collared-Doves prefer small towns or suburban areas with feeders and seed sources, planted trees for roosting, nesting and shelter, and exposed, elevated singing perches; they avoid heavy forest.”

They have two sounds I often hear: a restful coo-COO-coo song and a raspy quack they use in flight. You’d never guess the two sounds come from the same delicate throat!

They’re used to humans and last spring tolerated me very close to their eye-level nest, staring me down but not flinching. They always seem curious about me, making eye contact and tilting their heads.

If you have Eurasian Collared-Doves or any other birds of interest in your area, please share pictures with us. Email them to or post on our Facebook page.


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