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5 Fascinating Facts About the Barred Dove: Adaptable Agile Resilient!

The Barred Dove, also known as the Zebra Dove (Geopelia maugeus), is a small bird species that commonly inhabits areas like forests, gardens, and parks. This species can be found in vast regions throughout Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

In this article, we will delve into the identification of the Barred Dove, similar species it may be confused with, and its different plumages and molts.


Field Identification

The Barred Dove is about 20-23 cm long, and its weight can range from 60-100 grams. Its feathers are predominantly gray-brown with white stripes that run from the neck down to its belly.

The head and wings are a darker brown, highlighted with crimson spots. One can easily identify the Barred Dove by its distinctive cooing call that sounds like “coo-coo-coo.”

Similar Species

The Barred Dove has several identical species that one may mistake it for. Two species that may be confusing to birdwatchers are the Australian Zebra Dove and the Island Collared-Dove.

The Australian Zebra Dove’s body color is also gray-brown, but it has a distinctive black patch at its throat. The Island Collared-Dove, on the other hand, may also resemble the Barred Dove, but it has a reddish-pink forehead and lacks the distinctive stripes of the Barred Dove.


Not much is known about the plumages of the Barred Dove, but it has been observed that there are slight color variations in different populations. The majority of Barred Doves’ plumages are the same metal gray-brown, with distinct white wavy bars on their breast, and belly.

The iris of the adult male is pale yellow, while the female is a darker shade of yellow.


The molting process of the Barred Dove has not been extensively studied, but its apparent that it occurs 2-3 times per year. During molt, birds shed old feathers and replace them with new ones.

Molting is necessary for birds to maintain healthy feathers for flight. The molting process can occur simultaneously on all parts of the birds body or may start from the head and work its way down the body.


In conclusion, the Barred Dove, with its beautiful feather pattern, is an attractive bird species that can be found in various habitats throughout Southeast Asia. Its identifiable cooing call, coupled with its unique feather pattern, makes it an exciting bird to observe and study.

Although it may resemble closely-related species like the Australian Zebra Dove and the Island Collared-Dove, the Barred Dove can easily be identified by its distinctive characteristics. The molting process is vital for the Barred Doves survival and health, and it occurs 2-3 times a year.

Briefly, most aspects of this bird species are not extensively studied, and there is much to learn about this beautiful bird.

Systematics History

The Barred Dove, also referred to as the Zebra Dove, is a bird species that belongs to the Columbidae family. This family includes over 300 bird species, and the Barred Dove is one of the 20 species that belong to the Geopelia genus.

The classification of this dove species has changed over time as new information and analysis techniques have emerged.

Geographic Variation

The Barred Dove can be found across a vast range that extends from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. This avian species inhabits diverse ecosystems, including coastal areas, grasslands, and forest edges.

The geographic location of the Barred Dove has played a significant role in the variation of its populations. Due to variations in climate and habitat, the Barred Dove populations in different locales are distinct in morphology and behavior.


The Barred Dove has at least 25 subspecies that can be found throughout its range. Although there are different recognized subspecies of this species, morphological differences between them can be difficult to discern and have been the subject of debate.

Some of the notable subspecies include the elegant subspecies (Geopelia maugei striata) and the purple-crested subspecies (Geopelia maugei grandis).

Related Species

The Barred Dove belongs to the Geopelia genus, which includes other similar dove species like the Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata) and the Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata). These dove species bear several similarities, including feather patterns and vocalizations, but they differ in geographic range and habitat preferences.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Barred Dove has undergone changes in distribution over time, and these changes have been significant enough to impact the bird’s overall population size. Historically, the Barred Dove was widespread throughout Southeast Asia, with continuous occurrences from India to the Philippines.

However, habitat destruction, trade, and transportation activities have caused a series of localized extinctions and population declines. The establishment of urban centers, agriculture, and the expansion of human settlements have impacted the Barred Doves habitats.

This bird species prefers open environments, and the clearing of forests, alongside the conversion of grazing land into cropland, has caused a reduction in their natural habitat. More so, deforestation has disrupted nesting and foraging sites, leading to declines in population levels.

The Barred Dove has also been a target for the pet trade industry. This species has been over-collected and exported for sale to meet the demand for wild-caught bird species.

The significant unlicensed harvest of this species for their meat, which is consumed in many countries across their range, has also impacted their populations. In recent years, some conservation measures have been implemented, which have led to the establishment of protected areas and the reintroduction of the species into their habitats.

The designation of some regions as protected areas has led to the conservation of populations of the Barred Dove. The bird’s populations have been documented to thrive in habitats that have been conserved or restored.

This indicates a positive impact concerning conservation measures aimed at conserving this species.


In conclusion, the Barred Dove is a bird species that has undergone classification changes and historic distributional shifts. The subspecies of the Barred Dove, although morphologically similar, are recognizable.

The population of the Barred Dove has declined due to habitat destruction and over-collection for the pet trade industry. However, efforts to conserve this species have yielded positive results, signaling the importance of conservation measures for protecting this bird species.

The Barred Dove is an essential component of ecosystems and plays a critical role in seed distribution and insect control. Further studies are needed to better understand the threats that the Barred Dove faces and the measures necessary to secure their populations.


The Barred Dove is a bird species that has adapted well to living in human-dominated landscapes. They can be found in a vast range of habitats, including gardens, parks, agricultural fields, and forests.

These birds are particularly fond of semi-open habitats with scattered trees and bushes, where they can easily find food and shelter.

Movements and Migration

The Barred Dove is a non-migratory bird species. They are resident birds and remain in their habitat all year round.

However, they may undertake some local movements in response to changes in food availability or the availability of nesting sites. These movements are not considered true migration, as they are relatively short distances, and the birds usually return to their original habitat.

Studies have shown that movements of the Barred Dove are influenced by environmental factors, including precipitation, temperature, and food resources. During the dry season, Barred Doves rely heavily on food sources, such as grains, and may move to areas where these resources are more abundant.

The birds may also move in response to the availability of nesting sites during the breeding season. Although Barred Doves are non-migratory, they have the ability to disperse.

Dispersal can occur when young birds move from their natal site to other locations, where they establish their territory. Dispersal is an important mechanism for maintaining genetic diversity and increasing or colonizing new habitats.

Barred Doves have also been documented to move between urban and rural areas. This is particularly true in areas where agriculture and urbanization exist side by side.

These movements help the birds to access different food sources and nesting sites and may lead to the formation of new populations. The movements of the Barred Dove are generally influenced by the availability of resources.

Food and shelter availability are key factors that determine where the birds live and move to. Urbanization has created new resources for the Barred Dove, including artificial nest boxes and supplemented feeding.

This has led to the birds adapting well to urban landscapes and increasing their distribution in these areas. In conclusion, the Barred Dove is a resident bird species that does not migrate, but may undertake local movements and dispersal to establish new territories.

The movements of the Barred Dove are primarily influenced by the availability of food and nesting sites, and urbanization has created new resources for the birds. The Barred Doves ability to adapt to human landscapes has allowed it to thrive and form populations in urbanized and agricultural areas.

Diet and Foraging


The Barred Dove is an opportunistic feeder and has a flexible diet that varies depending on the availability of food resources. They are primarily ground feeders and spend most of their time foraging on the ground for food.

Barred Doves will also feed on low shrubs and trees, accessing food items such as fruits, berries, seeds, and insects.


The diet of the Barred Dove varies depending on the season and habitat. During the breeding season, the birds feed on protein-rich insects, and in the non-breeding season, they switch to a more herbivorous diet consisting of grains, seeds, and fruits.

In areas where agriculture occurs, Barred Doves forage on crops like rice, corn, and millet. In addition, they source food from farmyards, where they feed on grain spilled from livestock feeders.

They are also attracted to kitchen scraps in human settlements and visit bird feeders.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Barred Doves have a high metabolic rate that enables them to sustain their activity levels. This high metabolism is necessary for the regulation of body temperature and maintaining their optimal body weight.

Birds have a higher metabolic rate compared to mammals, and this allows them to maintain a higher body temperature, which is necessary for essential physiological functions. Barred Doves regulate their body temperature using several mechanisms, including thermoregulation.

Thermoregulation is the process of maintaining a constant body temperature despite changes in environmental temperature. This is possible through a combination of metabolic processes, evaporative cooling, thermal insulation, and behavioral adaptations, such as reducing activity levels during the heat of the day.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Barred Dove has a distinctive vocalization that is commonly heard throughout its range. Their call is a three-note coo, which they sound regularly, especially during the breeding season.

The male Barred Dove uses its vocalization to attract mates, establish territory, and signal the presence of potential predators in their environment. Barred Doves also use their vocalization as a way of communicating with others of their kind.

For example, during flight, the birds will make a whistling sound that is thought to be used to communicate with other birds in the flock. This sound is a rapid rising and falling whistle.

In addition, during courtship, the male Barred Dove may perform a bowing display that is accompanied by calls and vocalizations. The bowing display involves the male lowering its head and raising its tail, making distinctive calls and noises that are related to mating behaviors.

In conclusion, the Barred Dove is an opportunistic feeder with a varied diet that is dependent on the season and habitat. They have a high metabolism rate necessary for regulation of body temperature, with mechanisms that work to keep their body temperatures constant.

The Barred Dove has a distinct three-note coo that is regularly heard during feeding and mating behaviors, and they also use bowing displays and whistle calls to communicate. Overall, these behaviors and characteristics allow the Barred Dove to thrive in different habitats, adapting easily to changes in their environment.



The Barred Dove, like other members of the pigeon family, has adapted well to varied habitats. They are agile birds and can move around on the ground efficiently.

They walk and run gracefully on the ground, using their wings for balance and stability. Barred Doves are also good fliers and can take flight quickly, making short bursts of rapid wing beats.

Self Maintenance

To remain healthy, Barred Doves engage in routine self-maintenance, including preening, bathing, and dusting. Preening involves using the beak to arrange feathers, remove dirt, and eliminate external parasites.

Bathing and dusting involve using water or dry soil to rid the body of dirt and parasites and help regulate body temperature.

Agonistic Behavior

Barred Doves are social birds that form flocks, but they can also be aggressive towards others of their kind. Agonistic behaviors, such as pecking, posturing, and chasing, are common in Barred Doves.

These behaviors are used to establish dominance hierarchies and to compete for resources such as food and mates.

Sexual Behavior

The Barred Dove is a monogamous species where pairs mate during the breeding season. During courtship, the male performs a bowing display towards the female, accompanied by a distinctive ooh-a-woo call.

The male also offers the female food, which she takes from his beak. For the duration of the breeding season, the pair bond remains strong, and both parents take part in raising chicks.


The Barred Dove breeds throughout the year, but the breeding season peaks during the rainy season. They construct loose, flimsy nests made of twigs, grass, and leaves.

The nests are typically placed in low bushes and trees close to the ground. Foraging sites with nearby food sources are ideal locations for nest building.

The female Barred Dove lays two white eggs that are incubated for about 14-15 days by both parents. The chicks hatch out naked and helpless, and both parents feed them with crop milk, a protein-rich fluid secreted by the parent’s crop, for about ten days.

At ten days old, the chicks develop feathers and start pecking at food.

Demography and Populations

The Barred Dove species is not considered globally threatened, but several of its populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, and trade in wild birds. The Barred Dove has an adaptable nature, and its populations tend to be resilient to human-induced changes in their environment.

Populations of Barred Doves have been noted to thrive in rural and urban areas. However, continued habitat destruction and overhunting may lead to localized population declines.

In conclusion, the Barred Dove is an adaptable bird species that engages in varied forms of behavior such as locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic, and sexual behaviors. It breeds throughout the year, but the breeding season peaks during the rainy season, and both parents engage in feeding chicks.

Although the species is not globally threatened, several of its populations are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation, and hunting. The Barred Dove’s ability to thrive in human-dominated landscapes makes it an excellent model species for studying avian adaptability and resilience.

The Barred Dove is a fascinating bird species that has adapted well to living in human-dominated landscapes. This agile bird species can move around on the ground efficiently and is a good flier too.

Its flexible diet consisting of grains, fruits, and insects helps sustain its activity levels, while thermoregulation helps maintain optimal body weight. The Barred Dove’s monogamous mating habits, aggressive behavior, and courtship display are all intriguing.

This bird species is an ideal model for research on avian adaptability and resilience. However, its populations are threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and the trade in wild birds.

The Barred Dove’s ability to thrive in various human-dominated habitats makes it an essential species in understanding the role human lifestyle changes and the importance of conservation in preserving global biodiversity.

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