Now one of this country’s most common birds, the Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is actually a relatively new species to our shores. Pinky-brown in colour, these birds boast a distinctive black neck collar, hence their name, together with deep red eyes and reddish feet. They are roughly 32cm in length and have wingspans up to 51cm. Their somewhat monotonous cooing is a familiar sound across the nation. Collared doves can be seen just about anywhere but have shown a preference for living in close proximity to humans rather than in open countryside.
What is the collared dove’s distribution and population?
Collared doves were not seen in this country until 1955 when the first pair to arrive here nested in Norfolk. They then then travelled to the UK in significant numbers from the east and have really established themselves here. There are now around one million breeding pairs in the UK and this species is not of conservation concern. But it is thought that the collared dove may have been slowly declining since 2005 due to an increase in Woodpigeon numbers and the disease Trichomonosis.
What do collared doves eat?
These birds feed on seeds and grain on the ground. They will also eat berries in the autumn and sometimes caterpillars and aphids in spring. In gardens, collared doves have always been happy to feed on bird seed or bread crumbs placed on bird tables or on the ground. However, they are highly adaptable birds which are increasingly seen hanging from bird feeders.
Where do collard doves nest?
The nests of collared doves are simply flimsy platforms of sticks which are built in trees up to heights of 20m. These birds will also use buildings as nesting sites and usually choose ledges, guttering and the brackets of satellite dishes or outdoor lights. They lay only two eggs but can produce up to nine clutches each year. Eggs are incubated for 14 days and chicks fledge after 17 days.
Did you know?
It isn’t yet understood what triggered the original expansion in range and increase in population of collared doves.