Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Common Ground-dove (Columbina passerina)


French: Colombe à queue noire German: Sperlingstäubchen Spanish: Columbina común
Other common names: Scaly-breasted Ground-dove

Columba passerina


, 1758,

South Carolina, USA


Formerly placed in genus Columbigallina. Closely related to C. minuta. Supposedly paler race navassae possibly indistinguishable from insularis#R. Birds on Inagua Is (extreme S Bahamas) formerly included within exigua, and subsequently described as race volitans, supposedly larger than those on Mona I, but later study indicated that size variation in Bahamas is clinal#R. Birds from La Tortuga I (and some other islands), off N Venezuela, sometimes separated as race tortugensis#R#R. Nineteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. p. passerina (Linnaeus, 1758) – South Carolina along Atlantic and Gulf Coasts to SE Texas.
  • C. p. pallescens (S. F. Baird, 1860) – Colorado Delta and Baja California E through S Arizona to S Texas, and S through Mexico to Belize and Guatemala.
  • C. p. socorroensis (Ridgway, 1887) – Socorro I in Revillagigedo Archipelago (off W Mexico).
  • C. p. neglecta (Carriker, 1910) – Honduras S to Costa Rica and Panama.
  • C. p. bahamensis (Maynard, 1887) – Bermuda and Bahamas (including Inagua Is).
  • C. p. exigua (Riley, 1905) – Mona I (between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola).
  • C. p. insularis (Ridgway, 1888) – Cuba, I of Pines, Cayman Is (Grand, Little, Brac), Hispaniola and adjacent islands.
  • C. p. jamaicensis (Maynard, 1899) – Jamaica.
  • C. p. umbrina Buden, 1985 – Î de la Tortue, off NW Haiti.
  • C. p. navassae (Wetmore, 1930) – Navassa I, off SW Hipaniola.
  • C. p. portoricensis (Lowe, 1908) – Puerto Rico, Culebras, Vieques and Virgin Is (except St Croix).
  • C. p. nigrirostris (Danforth, 1935) – St Croix and N Lesser Antilles (S to Dominica).
  • C. p. trochila (Bonaparte, 1855) – Martinique.
  • C. p. antillarum (Lowe, 1908) – S Lesser Antilles (from St Lucia and Barbados S to Grenada).
  • C. p. albivitta (Bonaparte, 1855) – coastal N Colombia and Venezuela (S to Orinoco Valley), and offshore islands from Aruba E to Los Testigos, Margarita and Trinidad.
  • C. p. parvula (Todd, 1913) – C Colombia (upper Magdalena Valley).
  • C. p. nana (Todd, 1913) – W Colombia (Cauca Valley and arid upper Dagua Valley).
  • C. p. quitensis (Todd, 1913) – C Ecuador from Carchi and Imbabura S to S Azuay.
  • C. p. griseola Spix, 1825 – extreme S Venezuela, the Guianas, and Amazonia from R Negro and R Madeira E to coastal Brazil (S to Bahia).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 16–18 cm, 24–37 g; female 15·5–18 cm, 22–50 g. One of the smallest of all doves, only slightly larger than House Sparrow (Passer... read more


    Song is a series of evenly-spaced, low-pitched and slightly upslurred cooing notes “whuuu....whuuu... read more


    Inhabits drier areas and open habitat, notably savanna, pastures, and sandy openings in woods.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known. Consumes mainly small seeds, chiefly of wild grasses and a wide range of common weed species. Also takes pine and sedge seeds... read more


    Breeding apparently dictated by food supply and consequently timing varies through range; nests found in Jan–Nov in Trinidad, but... read more


    Generally resident. N American birds tend to move S in winter, although species wanders irregularly... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally uncommon to locally abundant; common to fairly common throughout broad range in Mexico; locally common in Colombia where occurs mainly in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Common Ground-dove (Columbina passerina). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).