Conspicuous iridescent purple to bronze-green feathers on the hindneck of the Caribbean dove (Leptotila jamaicensis) make it a fairly distinctive island inhabitant in the Caribbean region. The forehead, face and throat of this species are white, becoming blue-grey on the crown and back of the neck. The sides of the neck and breast are rosy pink to pinkish-white. The upperparts are typically greyish olive-brown, contrasting with white underparts and reddish-brown underwing (2)(3). There is often a bold white band on the front of the folded wing (2). The tail of the Caribbean dove has black feathers outer feathers and a white band across the bottom, which is broken in the middle by the central pair of grey-brown tail feathers. The bill is black, slightly greyer at the base, and the legs and feet are red. The Caribbean dove has dull reddish-purple skin around the eyes, and the iris is white or whitish-yellow, often with a red ring (2)(3).
The female Caribbean dove has much duller iridescence on the back of the neck compared to the male. The juvenile is also duller and lacks the iridescence. The wing-coverts and the feathers on the shoulder of the juvenile are typically edged with red, and the neck and breast have pale reddish-brown bars (2)(3).
Four subspecies of the Caribbean dove are recognised. Leptotila jamaicensis gaumeri is slightly smaller than the other subspecies and more olive-brown, with reduced iridescence on the hindneck and darker pink on the breast. Leptotila jamaicensis collaris is slightly smaller than the nominate subspeciesLeptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis, but is otherwise similar in appearance, while Leptotila jamaicensis neoxena also has reduced iridescence on the neck and the underparts are more deeply washed with pink (2)(3).
The Caribbean dove feeds on seeds, small fruits, insects, larvae and small snails (2)(3). Generally, the Caribbean dove is found alone or in pairs on the forest floor. It forages for prey among the leaf litter, or along the edges of woodland, and, less commonly, in more open habitats. This species shows an unusual preference for walking on the ground rather than flying, and it will typically only fly to a low perch when it is disturbed (3).
Breeding occurs from March to May when the female Caribbean dove lays a clutch of two white eggs. The nest is typically a fragile platform of twigs, which is lined with rootlets and placed in a dense low tree or shrub, usually no more than three metres above the ground (2)(3). The Caribbean dove is also known to occasionally nest on the ground (2).
The Caribbean dove is common on several Caribbean islands, with different subspecies occurring mainly on different islands. Leptotila jamaicensis gaumeri is found on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and on islands around Belize. Leptotila jamaicensis collaris occurs in the Cayman Islands, while the nominateLeptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis is found on Jamaica and has been introduced to New Providence in the Bahamas. Leptotila jamaicensis neoxena inhabits areas in the western side of San Andres off the coast of Nicaragua (2)(3). The Caribbean dove may also occur in Colombia, Honduras and the Turks and Caicos Islands (1).
Generally found in semi-arid habitat, the Caribbean dove inhabits primary and secondary forest up to elevations of 2,000 metres. It typically favours lowland areas with shrub or tree cover, such as scrub or woodland. The Caribbean dove is also found in the dry limestone forests and the montane forest of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, and is commonly observed in gardens and orchards throughout its range (2)(3).
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