Streptopelia turtur


Streptopelia is a genus of birds in the dove family. These are mainly slim, small to medium-sized species. The upperparts tend to be pale brown, and the underparts are often a shade of pink. Many have a characteristic black-and-white patch on the neck, and monotonous cooing songs.

The heartland of this genus is Africa, but several species occur in tropical southern Asia. As a group, this genus is highly successful; many species are abundant in a range of habitats in the tropics, and two now have a much more extensive distribution.

The Eurasian Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto, naturally expanded out of its original range of the warmer temperate regions from south east Europe to Japan to colonise the rest of Europe, reaching as far west as Great Britain by 1960, and Ireland soon after. It has also been introduced into the USA and, as of 1999 it had been reported from 22 states and was still spreading rapidly.

The Spotted Dove, Streptopelia chinensis, is an abundant and ubiquitous resident breeding bird in tropical southern Asia, but it has been introduced to the U.S., Hawaii, northern Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

A recent DNA sequence analysis (Johnson et al., 2001) has concluded that the genus consists of three distinct lineages. One contains the Laughing Dove and the Spotted Dove, which have long been recognized as having distinct morphology and behavior. The second group contains most of the other species, except the Madagascar Turtle Dove and the Pink Pigeon, which appear to be the surviving species of an endemic Madagascar/Mascarenes radiation and have at times been placed in other genera. The two-species lineages appear to be each other's closest relatives and cannot be firmly assigned to either Columba or Streptopelia (although overall they seem to be close to the latter). Thus, it might be best to split the two minor lineages off as distinct genera, namely Stigmatopelia for the first and Nesoenas for the last.


Possibly separable as Stigmatopelia

Streptopelia main lineage

Possibly separable as Nesoenas


  • Johnson, Kevin P.; de Kort, Selvino; Dinwoodey, Karen, Mateman, A. C.; ten Cate, Carel; Lessells, C. M. & Clayton, Dale H. (2001): A molecular phylogeny of the dove genera Streptopelia and Columba. Auk 118(4): 874-887. PDF fulltext

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