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Version 1.0

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Socorro Dove Zenaida graysoni

Lauren Heck
Version: 1.0 — Published July 25, 2014


Distinguishing Characteristics

Zenaida are medium sized, relatively slender brown doves. Socorro Dove weighs ca 190 g and is 26.5-34 cm in length, with a relatively long, strongly graduated tail. It is olive brown or dark brownish above with deep cinnamon brown head, breast, and underparts and bold black spots on scapulars, tertials, and inner wing coverts. It has a blue gray hindcrown and nape, metallic purple pink patches on its neck, and a black streak on the lower auriculars. Females and juveniles are slightly duller than males.

Similar Species

Socorro Dove is very similar to Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura), which formerly did not occur in Socorro, but which has invaded the island subsequent to Socorro Dove's extinction in the wild. Socorro Dove is larger than Mourning Dove, weighing about 15-20% more, and has a longer bill and much longer tarsi (29%). The underparts of Socorro Dove are ruddy rather than buffy and they have different tail markings and vocalizations. Mourning Doves often are gregarious, whereas Socorro Doves are solitary. In captivity Socorro Dove and Mourning Dove rarely interbreed and their hybrid offspring usually are sterile (Baptista 1997).

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Ridgway (1916) and Howell and Webb (1995):

Adult male: Forecrown brown; rear crown and nape slate gray. Back olive brown or dull brown. Two central pairs of rectrices deep grayish brown, the second pair with a blackish band across the inner web and part of the outer web. Outer rectrices successively grayer, and the black post-median band more distinct and extensive; gray of the terminal portion of each rectrix paler than the base, becoming pale gray basally and dull white distally on the outermost pair. Wing coverts similar in color to the back, but with a few large roundish black spots; primary coverts dark grayish brown. Remiges dark grayish brown, narrowly edged paler; secondaries also with a few large roundish black spots. Sides of the head and underparts deep orange cinnamon or chestnut brown. Sides of neck glossed with metallic purple. Small subauricular spot of glossy blue black.

Adult female: Duller overall than male; blue-gray on head reduced to small nape patch and iridescent neck patches are smaller.

Juvenile: Resembles female but much duller; upperparts have cinnamon-buff tips to feathers; chest has coarse dusky streaks.


Little information. Specimens collected in early May were undergoing a complete basic ("postnuptial") molt (McLellan 1926).

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown (Lawrence 1871); orbital ring pale blue (Howell and Webb 1995)

Bill: Dark gray bill with reddish-pink base

Tarsi and toes: pinkish (Howell and Webb 1995) or red (Gibbs 2001)


Total length: 26.5-34 cm (Baptista 1997), 28.3-30.6 cm (Ridgway 1916)

Linear measurements (from Baptista et al. 1983; sexes pooled):

wing length: mean 153 ± 5.7 mm (n = 22)

tail length: mean 129 ± 9.7 mm (n = 21)

bill length (chord of exposed culmen): mean 16.3 ± 0.80 mm (n = 22)

tarsus length: mean 28.2 ± 0.90 (n = 22)

Mass: male, mean 191 g (range 165-215 g, n = 4, captives; Baptista et al. 1983); female, mean 192 g (range 180-205 g, n = 2, captives; Baptista et al. 1983).

Recommended Citation

Heck, L. (2014). Socorro Dove (Zenaida graysoni), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.socdov1.01