Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis)


French: Tourterelle maillée German: Palmtaube Spanish: Tórtola senegalesa
Other common names: Senegal Dove

Columba senegalensis


, 1766,



Birds of São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea) sometimes awarded separate race thome, but validity very doubtful, particularly as species may be introduced there; other proposed races include dakhlae (Dakhla Oasis in C Egypt), aequatorialis (Ethiopia) and divergens (NE Botswana). Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. phoenicophila (E. J. O. Hartert, 1916) – oases S of Atlas Mts in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and W Libya. Recently spread to northern Morocco and Algeria.
  • S. s. aegyptiaca (Latham, 1790) – Nile Valley, from Suez Canal and delta S to Wadi Halfa.
  • S. s. sokotrae (C. H. B. Grant, 1914) – Socotra.
  • S. s. senegalensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – Senegal E to Somalia, and S to South Africa; and W Arabia from Medina (Saudi Arabia) S to Aden and Mukalla (S Yemen).
  • S. s. cambayensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – E Arabia and E Iraq E to Pakistan and India.
  • S. s. ermanni (Bonaparte, 1856) – Transcaspia and Kazakhstan E to NW China (W Xinjiang) and S to Afghanistan.
  • Also occurs (probably introduced) in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Malta. Introduced to Australia.

    Descriptive notes

    27 cm; 71–92 g. Head, neck and breast mauve-pink, merging into creamy white belly which passes into white undertail-coverts; a broad band of bifurcated display feathers... read more


    Advertising call a phrase of some 5–8 mellow coos, repeated after short or long pause. Phrase... read more


    In Africa, occupies dry habitat but tends to stay within 10 km of water; generally found in wooded... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds less than 2 mm in length comprise most of diet, but species also takes entire sunflower seeds or grains of maize; also eats fruits... read more


    Feb–Jun in N Africa, but Feb–Oct in Egypt; recorded in all months in Senegambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, but in E Africa... read more


    Partially migratory in parts of Africa, and in places seasonal movements have been documented.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common to abundant in many parts of huge natural range; generally one of most widespread doves within this range,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis). 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 20 February 2020).