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Bar Shouldered Dove

Geopelia humeralis (Temminck, 1809)

Bar Shouldered Dove

Photograph  by David Armbrust, Australia - http://www.anhs.com.au


This species has three geographical variations.  The first two listed below are documented in the Gibbs, Barnes, and Cox book (2) and the last is only included in Danny Brown's book (1).  He (Brown) indicates that some authors consider the western Australia bird as a separate subspecies.   Vriends (5) indicates there are three variations but does not name them.

  • Geopeila humeralis humeralis (Temminck, 1821) - Northern and eastern Australia
  • Geopelia humeralis gregalis (Bangs & Peters, 1926) - New Guinea
  • Geopelia humeralis headlandi - Western Australia


The bar shouldered dove is the largest of the Geopelia species.  It is about the same size as the common ringneck dove. The forehead and the belly are blue gray.  The top of the head and wings are gray brown scalloped with black bars.  The orbital rings are blue grey and they change to deep maroon or red during the breeding season.  Eyes are yellow, The bill is blue grey.  These birds have a bright coppery neck patch.  The legs and feet are pink.  Birds from western Australia are usually paler than the birds from eastern Australia.  The birds from New Guinea are darker colored than the ones from Australia.


As mentioned above this bird is found along the northern and eastern coasts of Australia and in southern New Guinea.  In Australia the bar shouldered dove is found in a coastal band but also some have ventured further inlands as long as they can be near water  Gibbs, Barnes, and Cox (2) report the bird is common throughout the tropical part of their range but are less common in the southern areas and populations here may be declining.


Bar shouldered doves are usually found in dry, open habitat with some scrub vegetation which is used for cover. Sometimes they are found in dry wooded areas and also in the margins between different vegetation types.  They prefer to stay close to water and often inhabit the areas adjacent to the mangrove coastal forest.  Some birds feed near human habitation and often will allow close approach before flying away..


Feeds on small seeds where the ground is bare in open spaces among thorn scrub, roadsides, paths, and in gardens. The bird walks and runs about very quickly while feeding. These birds are also very swift fliers. While they mostly eat seeds, insects are often part of their diet


A nest is constructed of a flimsy platform of twigs and is usually placed low down in woody shrubs. One or two eggs are laid.  My references indicate a discrepancy in times estimated for incubation and fledging.



Incubation Fledging
Brown 14-16 days 16-21 days
Gibbs, Barnes, & Cox 14-16, some 19 days 16-21 days
Vriends 22 days 10-12 days


Length 265 - 300 mm
Weight: 100 - 160 grams


(1)  Brown, Danny, "Bar-Shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis"  A Guide to Pigeons, Doves & Quail, Their Management, Care & Breeding, South Tweeds Heads, Australia: Australian Birdkeeper 1995, pp. 120-122

(2)   Gibbs, David; Barnes, Eustace; Cox, John "Bar-Shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis", Pigeons and Doves, A Guide to Pigeons and Doves of the World, London: Yale University Press 2001, pp. 315-317

(3)  Goodwin, Derek, "Bar-Shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis", Pigeons and Doves of the World, London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), 1967, pp. 173-174

(4)  Gos, Michael W., Doves. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1989, p. 86

(5)  Vriends, Matthew M., PhD., "Bar-Shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis", Doves, A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Happauge, NY: Barrons Educational Series, Inc., 1994 , p.18, 19, 39, 83

©2006 - Helen White

Helen White
P. O. Box 367,
Tallahassee, FL 32302-0367

Last revised on: April 16, 2006