Vinaceous Dove – Streptopelia vinacea

Reference species – published on 20th of February 2018
See Columbidae family (doves,pigeons…)
In French: Tourterelle vineuse en français


This species is a perfect example to illustrate the meaning of a classification of life… and the limits of that classification. For that reason, we give a “reference” status to the species; not in identification but in taxonomy. As you will understand reading this page, the only really “specific” (litterally) detail to know about that bird is its range (from Ouganda and Eritrea to Mauritania, South of the Sahara); its song is similar to Ring-necked Dove (but the middle note is “pure” instead of rauquous), Otherwise, IT IS somehow Ring-necked Dove… explanations:

Illustration of Bird-in-tuition method

The method explain that grouping information in the right taxononical level (the highest possible in the “pyramid”) help to memorize faster and learn better that giving all information species by species.

In the World, there are 14 species of doves in the genus Streptopelia. All thoses doves are mainly seed-eater; you can easily understand that trying to remember this information once for the genus is much easier than studying it 14 times. In our encyclopedia, it is more efficient to write it once instead of 14! It is one of the reasons for which we have “reference” species. Reading the page of the later, you will learn details valid for the whole genus or even the whole family (the text will tell you). In our example, to learn about food, breeding, eggs, courtship or other details about Vinaceous Dove, you can read Red-eyed Dove page. What is said is also true for Vinaceous Dove and other Streptopelia. A number of limited details can be specific: for example, if most Streptopelia don’t show any sexual dimorphism, Red Turtle Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica – page yet to be published) is very dimorphic with the male being mainly red with grey head and the female geing mainly all grey-brown like an Eurasian Collared Dove. Those are interesting information for the species: those which differ from other species!

In our example, Vinaceous Dove is almost identical to Ring-necked Dove and learning that last species you will know almost everything about Vinaceous Dove. The main difference is geographical: they replace each other one in the North and the West (Vinaceous) and the other in the center, the East and the South (Ring-necked) of African continent. Finally, why aren’t they grouped in the same species?

mapStreptopeliacapicolaExcellent question indeed! Same type of habitat, same behaviour, similar courtship, same food, same breeding details… why monotypic Vinaceous Dove wouldn’t be a “simple” sub-species of Ring-necked Dove? The warm colour of the plumage and the different middle note of the song don’t seem very strong justication of the split!

Moreover, in the contact zone (East of Lake Albert, in Uganda) or “parapatry” area, the birds have mixed genes of both taxa. Those facts allow us to dig a bit deeper the meaning of a classification of wildlife and it subjectivity: life is in constant evolution and any classification can be approximative and valid in a fairly short term… more here below.

Deepening – subjectivity of the classification and approximation of the reality

If a bird live in a region, let’s say Africa, as well as another region, totally separated geogaphically, for example Madagascar, according to actual species concept we know that, one day, this species will become two. However, the process is very slow. In case nothing change in the geography that makes the two population in contact, they will definitely separate in two species but it will need hundreds of thousands of year to happen; during this long and slow evolution, the precise “moment” before which we consider the two as same species and after which we consider two species is arbitrary even when everyone agree on the definition (and it is not the case).


[Species #51 of the Holistic Encyclopedia of Birds project]

List of other species pages: taxonomicalday per day


All photos and text are © Valéry Schollaert and Marinella Mejia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s