The white-winged dove’s hefty size and rounded off tail give the “white-wing” the appearance of being half dove and half pigeon, hence the older name of “Sonora pigeon.” White-wings differ from the more widespread mourning dove in having an overall grayer plumage, a white-tipped tail, and the white wing epaulets that give the bird its name. The white-wing’s flight also appears slower, less purposeful, and more pigeon-like than the mourning dove’s.
Mourning doves occur from the lowest elevations along the Colorado River upward through forests of ponderosa pines to 8,500 feet. Their staple foods throughout the year are primarily small seeds and cultivated grains. Although some doves can be found nesting on the ground in open prairies, the best nesting habitats are brushlands and woodlands within the Sonoran Desert. Here, the woeful call of breeding males can be heard as early as February, and pairs have been known to attempt as many as seven nestings in a single season. Productivity may therefore be high even though the usual clutch size is only two eggs. Incubation takes only about 15 days, and is accomplished by both parents, as is the brooding and feeding of the nearly naked squabs.
A favorable combination of nesting cover and grain crops resulted in two great heydays of white-winged doves hunting in Arizona. The first of these was in the years prior to World War I, and the second was during the years after World War II. So plentiful were these birds that the bag limit was 25 per day and 50 in possession. Since then, declining nesting habitat and the virtual replacement of grain farming by cotton and alfalfa have greatly reduced white-wing hunting opportunities. After reaching a low of 86,000 birds harvested in 1980, white-wing harvests have again gradually increased.
To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
Rules and regulations for hunting in Arizona.
Regulations for spring hunts, fall hunts and pronghorn, elk hunts.