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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti

Julie A. Hart
Version: 1.0 — Published May 20, 2011



Nesting occurs year-round in the northern portion of the range but is restricted to the wet seasons farther south (Baptista et al. 1997).


Nests typically are placed 1-2 m above the ground in trees or shrubs surrounded by dense vegetation (range 0-9 m; Skutch 1956, Cintra 1988). Discarded nests of other species may be used as substrate though most are constructed in the fork of a tree. Some nests are built high up in trees on bromeliads (Haverschmidt 1953). Both sexes construct a sturdy, shallow cup nest made of straws, sticks, and roots. One member of the pair sits on the nest and places materials delivered by the mate into the nest (Skutch 1956). One piece of nesting material is delivered at a time (Haverschmidt 1953, Skutch 1956). There is some evidence that the male selects the nest site. Nest construction is completed in 2-4 days. Nests are often thick-walled. Skutch (1956) measured several nests in Costa Rica that varied from 76-102 mm in external diameter and were 51 mm high, with inner dimensions of 64 mm in diameter and 25 mm deep. A larger study of 24 nests in Brazil found a mean external length of 110 mm, width of 93 mm, and height of 36 mm (Cintra 1988). The mean size of the egg depression in Brazil was 69 mm in length, 6 mm wide, and 27 mm deep (Cintra 1988). Ruddy Ground Dove nests are distinguished from Blue Ground Dove (Claravis pretiosa) nests by this sturdier construction (Skutch 1956).


Eggs are white and ellipsoid-shaped and average 22.4 mm ± 0.10 (range 20-24.5 mm) in length and 16.8 mm ± 0.06 (range 15.2-18.5 mm) in width. Eggs weigh 3.41 g ± 0.05 (2-4.2 g) (Cintra 1988). The first egg is laid soon after the nest is completed, usually within a day, and the second may be laid 1-3 days later (Skutch 1956).

Clutch size

Nests typically contain two eggs, sometimes only a single egg and rarely three. In Brazil, 91.7% of nests contained two eggs, 7.8% one egg, and 0.5% three (Cintra 1988). Multiple broods are the norm in this species given a nearly year-round breeding season. Up to five broods have been documented in a year (Cintra 1988). The entire breeding cycle covers five weeks with a second brood often closely following upon the previous (Skutch 1956).


Eggs are rarely left uncovered. Both sexes share incubating duties, with the male sitting in the morning through early afternoon, and the female sitting in the afternoon through the following morning (Haverschmidt 1953, Skutch 1956). Incubation lasts 12-13 days and young hatch within a day of each other (Skutch 1956).

Parental care

Hatchlings are altricial with pink skin, very little down, and closed eyes. The skin gets darker until nearly black at only 2-3 days. Nestling eyes open in 3-4 days and are alert by seven days. They begin to peep as early as three days (Cintra 1988). Feathers begin to come out of the sheath on day 7 and are mostly feathered by eight days. They begin exercising their wings at four days and can fly a little at nine days. At eleven days they begin hopping on the branches near the nest. Nestlings fledge at 12 days (range: 11-14 days). Feces are not removed from the nest after the nestlings hatch and the nest becomes spoiled (Skutch 1956). At the time of fledging birds reach half of their parents’ weight (Cintra 1988). Fledglings are independent from the adults at 25 days (Cintra 1988).

Both sexes brood the young at the nest and both provide crop milk and seeds for food. Adults take the hatchling bills into their own and tug on them to determine if they are hungry (Skutch 1956). Crop milk is fed to the nestlings on the first day, small seeds are added to their diet on the second day, and larger seeds are provided after four days (Cintra 1988). Nest attendance is slowly reduced after hatching but continues until fledging. Skutch (1956) observed the outcome of 21 nests. Of these nests, 40 eggs were laid and 20 hatched giving a success rate of 20% based on eggs and 24% based on successful nests. A much higher hatching success rate of 67.3% (n=422 eggs) was recorded in Brazil with failures due to predation, desertion, infertility, and disturbance (Cintra 1988). Of the 284 eggs that hatched, 37% died due to predation, desertion, exposure, falling, and disease. Using a Mayfield estimate resulted in a daily mortality rate of 4.4% for eggs and 3.8% for nestlings (Cintra 1988).

Cooperative breeding

No evidence.

Brood parasitism

No evidence, but other doves are known to lay eggs in other females’ nests (Sibley 2001a).

Recommended Citation

Hart, J. A. (2011). Ruddy Ground-Dove (Columbina talpacoti), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.rugdov.01