Laughing dove

   ›      ›   Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis

The laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) belongs to the family of pigeons and doves, Columbidae.

The laughing dove species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Middle East, central Asia and Africa. These dove species have a distinctive necklace and long tail. There are six recognized subspecies of these doves.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Laughing Dove Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Laughing dove - Overview

  • Scientific name: Spilopelia senegalensis
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Columba senegalensis Linnaeus, 1766, Streptopelia senegalensis
  • Family: Columbidae › Columbiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Laughing dove, Chinese: 棕斑鸠, French: Tourterelle maillée, German: Palmtaube, Spanish: Tórtola senegalesa, Russian: Малая горлица, Japanese: ワライバト, Tamil: Chinna Thavittu Pura
  • Other names: palm dove, Senegal dove
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Middle East, central Asia, Africa
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, grains, cereals, fruits, berries
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is a slim pigeon with long tail, measuring 25 to 30 cm in length and weighing 70 to 90 grams.

The face, forehead and chin of laughing dove are pale vinous pink. The head, neck and breast are mauve-pink or vinous brown. The mantle, scapulars, tertials and inner-wing coverts are light brown having pale rufous edged feathers.

The upperparts are brownish with a bluish-grey band along the wing. Covering the throat and the sides of the neck is a broad, chequered, rufous half-collar with gray speckles, made of black forked feathers with glossy rufous tip.

In the laughing dove, the primaries are brown and secondaries are dark gray. The vinous pink breast merges into creamy white belly, whitish vent and white undertail-coverts. The underwing is bluish gray.

Both the sexes look alike but for paler head and breast in female. The juvenile birds have dull rosy brown head. The breast and mantle are pale rufous. The nestling is covered with profuse yellow down.

The bill of the laughing dove is dark grayish brown. The irises are dark reddish brown. The legs and feet are dull purple red. The laughing dove call is a mellow rolling cooing "croo-doo-doo-doo-doo" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis
1.Birds of India - Image of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis by Koshy Koshy

Birds of India - Photo of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis
2.Indian birds - Picture of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis by Zeynel Cebeci

Indian birds - Image of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis
3.Birds of India - Photo of Laughing dove - Spilopelia senegalensis by Antony Grossy

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The laughing dove species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Middle East, central Asia and Africa.

Vagrant laughing doves have been observed in Finland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Portugal. Introduced and established populations occur in western Australia, Spain and Madagascar.

In India, these laughing dove species are distributed in the states of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Meghalaya.

In Africa, these dove species are distributed in all the countries. Similarly, these birds occur in all the countries in the Middle East region.

In central Asia, these doves are distributed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, south-central Russia and western China.

The laughing dove nominate subspecies S. s. senegalensis is distributed in Sub-Saharan Africa, west Arabian peninsula and Yemen. The subspecies S. s. cambayensis is distributed in east Arabia peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India.

The laughing dove subspecies S. s. ermanni is distributed in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, south-central Russia and western China.

The dove subspecies S. s. sokotrae is distributed in Socotra Islands. The subspecies S. s. phoenicophila occurs in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and west Libya. The subspecies S. s. aegyptiaca is distributed in Egypt and Sudan.

Ecosystem and habitat

These laughing dove species do not normally occur in forests. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 3000 meters.

The artificial ecosystems of these dove species include cultivated fields, fallow fields, pasturelands, rural gardens, urban areas and abandoned buildings.

The natural ecosystems of these slender-billed gull species include tropical and subtropical dry grasslands, temperate grasslands, dry savanna, dry farmlands and dry scrub and shrub lands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the laughing dove consists mainly of seeds. Small seeds fallen from grass, grains, cereals, fruits, berries, nectar and small ground insects such as termites and beetles are their primary food. They are fairly terrestrial, foraging on the ground in cultivated fields and grasslands.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these laughing dove species in northern Africa is from February to June. In Egypt, the laying season is from February to October. These birds have been observed to breed throughout the year in Senegal, Gambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Turkey.

The nesting sites of laughing dove include bushes and trees, under the eaves in buildings, old abandoned buildings, farm houses, barns and crack in walls of buildings.

The laughing dove species are presumably monogamous. They are territorial around the nesting site. Bowing and head bobbing display while cooing and display-flight are the prominent male courtship behaviors.

The laughing dove nest is a flimsy platform of sticks, twigs and roots. The breeding pair builds the nest together, with male bringing the twigs which are then placed by the female.

The typical laughing dove clutch contains two creamy white eggs. The male does much of the incubating during the day and the female incubates in the night. The eggs hatch after about 13 to 15 days of incubation.

Initially the laughing dove hatchlings are fed with regurgitated crop-milk, a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds. The young fledge about 15 days after hatching. The same pair may raise multiple broods in the same nest.

Migration and movement patterns

The laughing dove species are partially migrant birds.

The laughing dove populations in certain parts of Africa appear to be short distance migrants making seasonal movements. Otherwise in most of their range in central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, they are resident breeders.

Post breeding, the juvenile doves may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is estimated at 2,400,000 to 8,200,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be stable.

Throughout its range this dove species is reported to be locally common. The generation length is 4 years. Its distribution size is about 63,800,000

Hunting for food, sport hunting, trapping for pet trade and habitat loss and degradation are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these dove species.

IUCN and CITES status

The laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the dove species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Spilopelia senegalensis
Species:S. senegalensis
Binomial name:Spilopelia senegalensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is closely related to spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis).

The six recognized subspecies of laughing dove are: S. s. senegalensis (Linnaeus, 1766), S. s. phoenicophila (E. J. O. Hartert, 1916), S. s. aegyptiaca (Latham, 1790), S. s. sokotrae (C. H. B. Grant, 1914), S. s. cambayensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) and S. s. ermanni (Bonaparte, 1856).
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Koshy Koshy | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 7/4/17
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Zeynel Cebeci | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Antony Grossy | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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