Bar-shouldered Dove Click to enlarge image
Bar-shouldered Dove Image: Geoff Whalan
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Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    27 cm to 30 cm

The Bar-shouldered Dove is the common street-bird in Darwin and Cairns and its calls are a well-known part of urban life.


The Bar-shouldered Dove is a medium-sized, long-tailed dove. Adults doves have a blue-grey head, neck and upper breast, with a distinctive reddish-bronze patch on the hindneck, with dark barring. Young doves lack this patch and barring and tend to be duller overall. There is also a distinctive pinkish bar on the lower breast. The lower body is pale. They have a blue-grey eye-ring and reddish eye. They are usually seen in pairs or small parties. The northern subspecies hedlandi is lighter in colour.


Bar-shouldered Doves are found in woodland with a grassy understorey and in nearby open areas, usually near water. They are also often found in mangroves and are frequently seen in urban areas.


Bar-shouldered Doves are found in humid and well-wooded regions of north-western, northern and eastern Australia from near Onslow in Western Australia to Bega in New South Wales, as well as in southern New Guinea. The subspecies hedlandi is restricted to the Pilbara region.


Bar-shouldered Doves are sedentary and there is no evidence of major seasonal movements.

Feeding and diet

Bar-shouldered Doves feed on the ground in short grass near cover. They need to drink throughout the day. They mainly eat seeds of grasses, herbs and sedges, as well as rhizomes (small root storages).


A loud and distinctive 'cook coo cook coo' and a bubbling, descending call.

Breeding behaviours

The nest of the Bar-shouldered Dove is usually hidden in dense shrubs or trees and in gardens, throughout its range. A thin platform is made from twigs and roots and is placed in a fork or on a branch. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. Young doves are fed with 'crop milk', specially produced by the parent birds (a common characteristic of pigeons and doves).

  • Breeding Season: Year-round in the north, August to November in the south
  • Clutch size: Two
  • Incubation: 14 days
  • Time in nest: 21 days

Conservation status

Bar-shouldered Doves have benefitted from clearing for agriculture and are common in urban areas in the Top End region (far northern Australia).


  • Crome, F. and Shields, J. 1992. Parrots and Pigeons of Australia. Angus and Robertson/National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Higgins, P.J. and S.J.J.F. Davies (eds) 1996. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 3 (Snipe to Pigeons). Oxford University Press, Victoria.
  • Beruldsen, G 2003. Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Self-published, Queensland.