Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's Happened to the Inca Doves?

No one knows why Inca Doves have declined so drastically in Tucson over past 20 years, but it's a shocking, precipitous decline. It's never been missed on the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count, which went from a high of 2212 in 1992 to just 8 last year. We might miss it this year, though with 125 birders scouring the circle, we should find a few. 

Inca Dove is actually a recent immigrant, apparently having arrived in the 1870s and rapidly populating much of the southeastern corner of the state after then.


  1. I am on the NW side near Arthur Pack Golf Course. I used to see 4-6 Inca couples every spring over 26 years. In the last two years I have seen none! That was when the Eurasian dove entered the area. They are very aggressive. Did they push the Inca out of its territory? The Inca was holding it's own against the mourning and the white wing despite being more timid until the Eurasian arrived. It is 4/9/13 now. No Incas in sight.

    1. Eurasian Collared-Doves have shown no invasive behaviors to Native dove species. Studies done by Florida have shown that no problems with Collared-Dove being aggressive towards other Doves have been shown. Again, don't always blame immagrants (Except for Starlings and House Sparrow).

  2. Thanks for the comment. The precipitous decline of Inca Dove pre-dates the arrival of Eurasian Collared-Dove. It's a much bigger bird, and we'd expect it to present some sort of competition with Mourning or White-winged, but we're not seeing big declines in those species. (In fact, White-winged Dove seems to be still increasing northward in winter.) We used to have 20-30 Inca Doves wintering in our Tucson yard in the first years I was here (1997-2000), but they started dropping off right after that. We didn't get the first Eurasian Collared-Doves in this area until about 3 years ago, and they are still very uncommon right in Tucson. So the mystery remains.