Beautiful but shy, this cinnamon-colored forest dove can be seen throughout the tropical regions of the Americas. It can be identified by a light stripe that runs underneath its eye.

Physical Description

The ruddy quail-dove is a medium-sized dove, around the same size as a common pigeon. Males and females have different feather coloring; males have rust-colored feathers on their bodies that are darker on the head and wings and lighter on the bellies and undersides. Females are patterned similarly but are more olive-gray instead of reddish-brown. Both males and females have pink legs and a pink beak, and a light-brown stripe across their face underneath their eyes.


The ruddy quail-doves are 9-10 inches (23-25 centimeters) long, weighing around 4-5 ounces (110-140 grams), or roughly the weight of an apple.

Native Habitat

They can be found in woodlands, tropical forests and shady farms. Their range extends from Central America and the Caribbean into tropical South America. Vagrants are sometimes seen in Florida and Texas.


Their song sounds like a mournful "cooo," repeated several times and often sung while perched among tree branches.

Food/Eating Habits

In their natural habitat, ruddy quail-doves forage for food by walking stealthily on the forest floor, searching for fruit, seeds and insects.

Social Structure

These birds tend to be solitary, but pair up when raising hatchlings. 

Reproduction and Development

When they are ready to lay eggs, females will build a bowl-shaped nest made of twigs and leaves, which they place in a tree or a flat stump. Females lay about two eggs per clutch, and males and females take turns incubating the eggs until they hatch after about 11 days. Both parents help feed the babies, who can eat up to 22 times per day when they are first hatched! A day or two after the first pair of hatchlings leaves the nest, the female will lay another pair of eggs, and both parents will begin raising a second set of babies.

Conservation Efforts

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists their conservation status as Least Concern. Some local populations may be at risk due to habitat loss, environmental degradation and lack of food availability in their range.

Help this Species

  • Be a smart consumer. Choose products made with sustainable ingredients, such as Smithsonian certified Bird Friendly coffees, which support farmers striving to limit their impact on wildlife and habitat.
  • Consider going meat-free one day each week to help reduce the demand on the livestock industry and decrease your carbon footprint!
  • Organize or attend a stream, river, lake or other waterway cleanup in your area to preserve aquatic habitats for local species.
  • Conservation starts with you! Join a citizen science project, such as FrogWatch or Neighborhood Nestwatch, where you can help collect valuable data for scientists. Encourage your friends and family to get involved too.
  • Plant native flowers in your garden to help feed resident and migrating pollinators. You'll make your lawn beautiful and help wildlife at the same time!

Animal News

#GorillaStory: Happy First Birthday, Zahra!

May 27, 2024

Black-Footed Ferrets Born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

May 17, 2024

Inside the Zoo: How Staff Rallied for an Abandoned Baby Monkey

May 14, 2024