Laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)

Laughing dove standing on a rock
Loading more images and videos...

Laughing dove fact file

Laughing dove description

GenusStigmatopelia (1)

The laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis) gets its name from its particularly characteristic call, which sounds like human laughter (3) (5).

The head, neck and breast of the laughing dove are mauve-pink, shading to white on the belly. The back and tail are a deep red, while the wings are largely slate blue. The bill is black, and a distinctive collar of black feathers with golden tips encircles the neck (3) (5).

The adult female laughing dove is similar in appearance to the male, although the plumage is slightly paler and less reddish. The juvenile laughing dove has a somewhat duller appearance than the adult, having much browner plumage (3). Five subspecies of the laughing dove are sometimes recognised (6).

The distinctive call of the laughing dove is a hollow sounding ‘ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo(5).

Also known as
Indian little brown dove, laughing turtle-dove, palm dove, Senegal dove.
Columba senegalensis, Streptopelia senegalensis.
Tourterelle maillée.
Length: 25 cm (2)
Wingspan: 40 cm (3)
100 g (3) (4)

Laughing dove biology

The laughing dove feeds primarily on seeds, but it also eats other vegetable matter, such as fruit, as well as small insects, particularly termites (3) (5). It typically takes fallen seeds and fruit from the ground, although occasionally it may pluck and eat fruit while perched (3).

Although the laughing dove typically occurs individually or in pairs (6), it may gather in flocks at watering points, roosting spots (3), or where there is an abundance of food. At such feeding sites, hooting and moaning can be heard as the laughing doves bicker over the food (5).

The male laughing dove has a spectacular flight display, which it performs to advertise itself to females. With noisy wing beats, it leaves its perch and flies to a considerable height before sailing downwards with its wings and tail spread wide. When courting, the male rapidly bobs its head while gently cooing, showing off its colourful collar (3) (5). Before mating occurs, the female has also been observed transferring some food into the male’s open bill (5).

A monogamous bird, the laughing dove only has one partner and will tend to return to the same nesting site year after year (7). It may nest at any time during the year, but peaks in nesting are often recorded in spring (3), or during the rainy season (5). Each nest is typically situated on its own, in a fruit tree, but occasionally a few breeding pairs may nest close together (3).

The male laughing dove collects materials for the nest and the female then builds the nest with meticulous care. Each nest consists of 100 to 140 twigs and, despite its flimsy appearance, it can last up to nine months, even through monsoons (5). The female typically lays two eggs at a time, and both the male and female take turns to incubate the eggs for up to two weeks. The female lays eggs on average 6 times each year, resulting in 10 to 16 eggs being produced per breeding season (3).


Laughing dove range

The laughing dove has an extremely large range that stretches from southern Africa to Asia, as far east as India (2) (3). It has also been introduced to Australia (2).


Laughing dove habitat

Although primarily an inhabitant of woodland and savanna, the laughing dove is also found around human habitations, in farmland, villages and towns (3) (5) (7). The laughing dove tends to nest in fruit trees, particularly in pomegranate and olive trees in Africa (7).


Laughing dove status

The laughing dove is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Laughing dove threats

The laughing dove population is believed to be stable, in the absence of any evidence of population declines or substantial threats to the species (2).


Laughing dove conservation

There are currently no known specific conservation measures in place for the laughing dove (2).

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Find out more

Find out more about the laughing dove and its conservation:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. Birdlife International - Laughing dove (November, 2010)
  3. Rowan, M.K. (1983) The Doves, Parrots, Louries and Cuckoos of Southern Africa. David Philip, South Africa.
  4. Underhill, L.G., Underhill, G.D. and Spottiswoode, C.N. (1999) Primary moult and body-mass of the cape turtle dove Streptopelia capicola, and its abundance relative to the laughing dove S. senegalensis, in the Western Cape. Ostrich, 70: 196-199.
  5. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopaedia: Third Edition. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
  6. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  7. Boukhriss, J. and Selmi, S. (2009) Nesting habits and reproductive success of the laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis in the oases of Southern Tunisia. Alauda, 77(3): 187-192.

Image credit

Laughing dove standing on a rock  
Laughing dove standing on a rock

© Hanne & Jens Eriksen /

Nature Picture Library
5a Great George Street
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 117 911 4675
Fax: +44 (0) 117 911 4699


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top