The Grenada Dove

 

The Grenada Dove Liptotilla wellsi is one of the two flagship species on the island, the other being the Hook-billed Kite. The Grenada Dove is considered Endemic and Critically Endangered. It was declared the National Bird in 1990 and since then replaced the Ramier or Scaly-Naped pigeon as seen on the coat of arms for Grenada.

The Grenada Dove is presently the only endemic bird on the island. The Hook-billed kite a subspecies of the Cuban Kite hopefully will acquire endemic status upon further scientific research being conducted. The Grenada is said to be very shy and is seldom seen, but more often heard. The dove can be identified by its white shoulder bands and dark brown back, cinnamon breast and red feet. It is also very territorial by nature, typical of Liptotilla’s they live in the understory or canopy or the vegetation .Also being very habitat specific the doves seems to occupy a locations that is most conducive for their survival. The dove has a mournful cooing sound repeated approximately every seven (7) seconds. Only the male birds call, and birds can be heard calling repeatedly at peak times during breeding season, The peak calling times are  six (6) am and ten (10) am and four (4) pm and six (6) pm during regular breeding season June to October. Pairs of birds can also be seen walking on the ground for long distances pecking for food by turning over leaves and twigs. The birds construct nests of wooded twigs on tree branches (4-5) meters high. Nests can very easily destroyed by strong winds and heavy rains, especially during the hurricane season June to October also breeding season. The critical nature of the dove as it relates to natural enemies, one major predator is believed to be the mongoose others include snakes (tree Boa) and feral cats. Human development has impacted significantly on habitat whereby habitat lost due to infrastructure development roads and housing has severely affected the population and is still a major factor threatening the survival of the species .The Dove is found in two isolated locations on the island Mt. Hartman on the Southwestern and Perseverance on the Western. These two locations are two (2) of the six (6) Important Birding Areas (IBA) as recognized by BirdLife International profile GD006 and GD002 respectively.

 

                                                                    

These two areas are generally categorized as secondary seasonal dry forest and coastal woodlands. The dove have experienced  population declined by about 50% between 1987 and 1990. In 1998, the population numbered c.100 individuals, increasing to an estimated 180 individuals by 2004. Survey in 2007 found c 68 calling males suggested a post- hurricane recovery population of 136 individuals,. The population of the dove presently is still critically endangered with the occurrences and potential for bush fires in resent times.

The Grenada Dove was first mentioned in the early 1900’s and recorded on the Grenada bank back then. The species however gained local, regional and international recognition in the late 1800’s.The Dove when compared to similar species, show significant differences to be considered a species of its own. It was not until 1987 the Dove was first highlighted and documented from new research conducted by David Blockstein and later Biologist Bonnie Rusk. Since then significant information has been disseminated on the species e.g. Identification, population status and locations. Conservation initiatives have also being undertaken to protect the species. In 1994 two areas on the island where the doves are found was declared protected areas, The Mt. Hartman National Park and Dove Sanctuary and the Perseverance Dove Sanctuary was established.