Spotted Dove

Spilopelia chinensis

Spotted Dove. Photo: John Spiers

Spotted Doves are native to China, South East Asia and the Philippines. They were released in Adelaide in 1881, as part of the ill-conceived 19th century naturalisation programme, which saw a number of non-native birds introduced into Australia. They displaced the small Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida) but may now themselves be under pressure from the increase in the native Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes).

Spotted Doves feed on grain, the seeds of grasses and herbs and on small fruit. They feed on the ground alone, in pairs or in small groups.

Potentially they can breed all year round but do so mainly in spring and summer. The nest is a typical flimsy platform of twigs on which they lay 2 glossy white eggs. Incubation takes two weeks. After another two weeks, the young fledge.


Males and females are alike without any seasonal variation. The head and face are pale grey. The rest of the underparts are also pale grey, but with a pinkish tinge. The most distinctive feature is the black band adorned with large white spots that appears draped over the nape. The mantle and back are a drab brown with dusky centres. The flight feathers and upper tail feathers are dark brown. The eye is dull yellow and the legs pink-brown. The downy young are sand coloured. Juvenile are like adults but without the spotted neck patch.

Where to find it

Spotted Doves may be found throughout South Australia, but favour manmade habitats such as agricultural land, small towns and suburbia. They are mainly sedentary.

There are two subspecies. Those introduced into South Australia were probably of the nominate race race S.c. chinensis.