Inca Dove Facts

Inca dove facts are great for families to read together

Inca doves have been associated with travelers following them to find water as these birds are known for flying directly towards water. They can be identified as a small dove with a long and squared tail. This species is known to have a scaly appearance and each wing holds a surprise of bright rufus-colored primaries which can be seen when they take flight. An Inca dove is famous for taking direct flight using a rapid beating of their wings and they are scattered around southern America and most of Mexico.

These birds play a very important role in the ecosystem because of their dispersal of seeds and eating habits. They are found in areas with human settlements and scattered trees within the geographical boundaries they live in. Even though their name is inspired by the Inca empire, these birds are not found in the areas which were once a part of this historical empire.

If you enjoy reading fun facts or information about birds and wish to find out more about doves, check out our other articles on Eurasian collared dove and dove.

Inca dove

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Grains, seeds, and fruits

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

1.1-2.0 oz (30-58 g)

How long are they?

7.1-9.1 in (18-23 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Parks, open areas, and deserts with shrubs or scattered trees


Costa Rica, Mexico, and southwest United States





Scientific Name

Columbina inca





Inca Dove Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Inca dove?

An Inca dove is a bird belonging to the Columbidae family which generally consists of doves and pigeons.

What class of animal does an Inca dove belong to?

The Inca dove belongs to the class of Aves belonging to the kingdom of Animalia.

How many Inca dove are there in the world?

The total reported population of these doves is around two million. However, All About Birds Resource reports that the breeding members of this species total at about three million out of which 61% belong to Mexico and 33% are found in the United States.

Where does an Inca dove live?

This species can be seen all over the southwest of the United States and northern Central America. However, they are gradually increasing their range both north and south thanks to adaptations which allow them to live near human settlements. They can be found throughout the Sonoran Desert region near human settlements.

What is an Inca dove's habitat?

These birds seem to enjoy living in arid or semi-arid open areas with scattered trees and shrubs. They are also found around human settlements such as farmlands, gardens and parks. They look for trees that appeal to them and build a nest that is approximately 5-20 ft (152-609 cm) high. This nest is built using stems, leaves, grass, and twigs.

Who do Inca doves live with?

These birds are mostly found living in pairs or small flocks, however, they are very sensitive to the cold. In the winter, they engage in behavior such as rooting close to several other members of its species and forming a pyramid to keep each other warm. They exhibit this behavior in sites sheltered from the cold by huddling with each other using their wings. These doves are monogamous birds, living with their partner and hatchlings in their nest high above the ground.

How long does an Inca dove live?

The lifespan of these birds can range between two to eight years, however, they are reported to survive up to about three years of age in the wild like other species of this family.

How do they reproduce?

During courting, a male struts and makes 'coos' to a female while bobbing its head. Males fan their tail feathers while keeping their tail vertical to show off their markings. These birds are known for breeding and building nests all year round. A male assumes the responsibility of finding leaves and twigs while females build the nest. They lay two eggs inside their nest which is above ground and 12 to 14 days after incubation, the young are fed 'pigeon milk' like other similar species.

What is their conservation status?

These birds are classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List with their range and numbers increasing every year. They currently do not require conservation, however, some of them have been experiencing habitat loss due to human and natural factors.

Inca Dove Fun Facts

What do Inca doves look like?

An Inca dove is known to be a small, brownish-gray in color bird with a scaly appearance. Their tail is long and slender, having white sides with a gray center bordered by black.  They can easily be identified by their tail, black bills, pink legs, and feet.

Inca doves are extremely cute.

How cute are they?

An Inca dove is generally considered to be a very dull and scaly bird by most people but for many bird lovers, it is a very cute and lovable bird. A lot of Inca dove lovers are fans of its beautiful tail feathers. Inca dove hatchlings are very cute as well, exhibiting rust-brown feathers on their wings.

How do they communicate?

These doves are known for using the 'coo' sound to communicate. They are also known for using their heads to communicate such as bobbing their head during mating.

How big is an Inca dove?

Inca doves are about 7.1-9.1 in (18-23 cm) in length with their wingspan reaching up to 12.5 in (32 cm) long. They are very small doves and are half the size of a mourning dove but are observed to be larger than a common ground dove.

How fast can an Inca dove fly ?

These doves can reach speeds of up to 28 mph (45 kph) during flight. They are not as fast as larger birds but are quite well-paced in terms of their small size. They are known for taking a direct flight from the ground by using rapid beats of their wings.

How much does an Inca dove weigh?

An Inca dove can weigh anything from 1.1-2.0 oz (30-58 g). They are one of the lighter species of doves.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species do not have a specific name to differentiate between the two. They are merely referred to as a male Inca dove and a female Inca dove.

What would you call a baby Inca dove?

A baby Inca dove is called an 'Inca dove hatchling' or a 'young Inca dove' as there are no specified names for baby doves.

What do they eat?

Inca doves are known for being herbivores or granivores as they mainly eat grains, seeds, and fruits. Due to some seeds being hard to digest, these doves have been reported to swallow grit. Upon hatching, they are fed pigeon milk, a whitish fluid that both the parents store. This species goes crazy foraging on the ground for seeds in light vegetation and use their bills to dig the dirt around to uncover seeds.

Are they dangerous?

Inca doves are not violent towards humans but similar to that of other birds of similar species, these birds can infect domestic turkeys with Chlamydia psittaci.

Would they make a good pet?

There are not a lot of instances of this bird being kept as a pet, however, there are many reports of these birds being social and calm pets.

Did you know...

During winter, these birds conserve heat by roosting in pyramid-like formations which can consist of up to 12 birds in communal huddles.

The ‘coo’ sound, specifically made by these species, can be translated as 'no hope'.

An Inca dove is able to lower its body temperature to protecting itself from the cold during the night and during winter.

Do Inca doves migrate?

These birds are classified as resident birds but this species is expanding its range both northward and southward.

Why are Inca doves disappearing?

Even though they are increasing their range and their numbers are not dwindling, they are found in fewer places and habitats. Inca doves, alongside other species of doves, have been losing their habitats in certain places and disappearing due to active urbanization which has a converse effect on the habitat of these birds as compared to cultivated lands and smaller settlements. Alongside this, repeated droughts and heatwaves take a toll on young doves and this is adversely affecting their living conditions while changing their distribution status and habitats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including hummingbird or stork.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our dove coloring pages.



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