Bar-shouldered Dove

Did you know?

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

A loud and distinctive 'cook coo cook coo' and a bubbling, descending call.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
Breeding season: 
Year-round in the north, August to November in the south.
Clutch Size: 
2 eggs
14 days
Nestling Period: 
21 days
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
What does it look like?

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 subspecieshedlandi is lighter in colour. This species is also known as the Mangrove Dove, Scrub Dove, or Kookawook.

Similar species: 

The Bar-shouldered Dove is similar in size and shape to the Spotted Turtle-DoveStreptopelia chinensis, and much larger than the Peaceful DoveG. striata, or the Diamond DoveG. cuneata.

Where does it live?

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 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.

What does it do?

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).


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).

Living with us

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

 and   @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube