Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis)

Laughing Dove

[order] COLUMBIFORMES | [family] Columbidae | [latin] Spilopelia senegalensis | [UK] Laughing Dove | [FR] Tourterelle maillee | [DE] Palmtaube | [ES] | [NL] Palmtortel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Macropygia senegalensis
Spilopelia senegalensis AF, EU, OR India and c Asia to s Arabian Peninsula and AF
Spilopelia senegalensis aegyptiaca Nile Valley (Egypt)
Spilopelia senegalensis cambayensis e Arabia and e Iran to India and Bangladesh
Spilopelia senegalensis ermanni Kazakhstan, n Afghanistan, w China
Spilopelia senegalensis phoenicophila Morocco to nw Libya
Spilopelia senegalensis senegalensis w Arabia, Africa south of the Sahara
Spilopelia senegalensis sokotrae Socotra I.

Physical charateristics

The Laughing Dove is a smallish dove with no black collar, a pinkish tinge on the head, neck, breast, and white under the belly and tail. It’s primaries are brown with a grayish blue on the upper side of the wings. The bill is blackish in color and the chest is speckled with a reddish coloring. It’s feet and legs are purplish red.

The female has a duller mantle, which is a brownish or grayish color. The young do not have the characteristic markings on the chest and are also duller in color with brownish heads. Older birds have a strongly washed pink coloring on the head and breast. Pale colored as well as albino varieties have also been found, the latter occurring in both the Luangwa and Middle Zambezi of Zambia.

Listen to the sound of Laughing Dove

[audio: Dove.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa, Eurasia, Oriental Region : India and Central Asia to South Arabian Peninsula and AF


These doves can be found in villages and urban areas: in gardens, on buildings, and along city streets. They are also found in East Africa’s gallery forests and in the savannas.


Though they lay eggs throughout the year, Laughing Doves main breeding season is from September to October or November, and from March to April. Preceding copulation, the female inserts her bill into the male’s and they both make a slight movement of their heads. Immediately following copulation the male stands with it’s head up and neck feathers puffed out, while the female parades around with it’s rump and neck feather’s erected.
The nest is made of small twigs and can be found on rafters or thatch of a hut, on shelves, windowsills, balconies, or in flower pots, and in low trees or bushes. Two white eggs constitutes a normal clutch with an incubation period lasting from 12 1/2 to 14 days. Both the male and the female share the incubation and both feed the young, which are called “squabs”. The young are fed food that is partially digested and mixed with a secretion from the walls of the crop; this is called “pigeon’s milk”. Because they are fed this special diet by the parents, it is difficult to raise them on other foods. The young tend to leave the nest before they are able to fly and are picked up by well meaning people who think they fell from the nest. If the young are left alone or placed in a position high enough that they are easily visible to the parents, they will continue to be cared for.

Feeding habits

The Laughing Dove is mainly a ground-feeder. Their diet consists chiefly of small seeds and grains. They occasionally feed on insects and especially favor termites. They rely heavily on water and therefore will stay close to areas that have an available water source.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population, including an estimated 120,000-410,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
At present the Laughing Dove is not endangered and flourishes in a wide variety of places. Their ability to adapt to a range of habitats has found these doves in various countries including Australia and China as well as the USSR and many others. The main threat to these doves is nest predation by hooded crows, jays, rats, and snakes.
Laughing Dove status Least Concern


Laughing Doves are generally sedentary occupying territories throughout the year.

Distribution map

Laughing Dove distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *