Fixing North American Strepopelia Dove Sightings: Taxonomic Discussion

As of the day of this post there are 40 “confirmed” African Collared-Dove (Strepopelia roseogrisea) sightings in North America. Looking at the photos briefly, it seems most of these sightings are either…

  • Depigmented or albino Eurasian Collared-Doves (Strepopelia decaocto)
  • Juvenile Eurasian Collared-Doves
  • Escapee Barbary Doves (Strepopelia risoria or Strepopelia roseogrisea var. domesticus)

In a nutshell, Strepopelia taxonomy is a spaghetti pile and Clements likely doesn’t represent the likely outcome when scientists untie the knot. As of now, iNaturalist doesn’t have any representation of the Barbary Dove but Clements calls it a subspecies/domestic type of the African Collared-Dove. Breeders boldly believe there’s Eurasian Collared lineage in their doves and Cornell calls it an African Collared but describe a Barbary Dove when comparing with Eurasian Collared-Dove.

What efforts can curators make to ensure all the dove sightings in North America are correct or most accurate?


Curators are not responsible for ensuring or tracking or evaluating the accuracy of identifications on the site, and their identifications have the same weight as all other users.

Not exactly what I was meaning. I’m meaning in a taxonomic point of view. There’s no iNat representation of a Barbary Dove and most of these North American “African Collared-Doves” are these doves. What I’m asking is what can be done to improve the taxonomic spaghetti bowl. Depending on your source, the Barbary Dove can be one of these three options.

  1. A domesticated subspecies of the African Collared-Dove
  2. A domesticated “species” of dove, derived from Eurasian and African Collared hybridization centuries ago. Reason why it gains species status is because it breeds with its own kind and not one of its ancestral parents. An example showing this kind of “species development” is the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris) and it receives species’ status despite the fact its ancestor is the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus).
  3. A reintroduction of crossbreeding the “new” species with African Collared-Doves in the late 17th century and continual breeding as such makes these birds simply Eurasian x African Collared-Doves and not worthy of species’ status.

What I’m saying is, some taxon should support the escapee Barbary Doves but what kind of taxon do we put it as? Species, subspecies or hybrid?

Barbary Dove is generally considered to be a domesticated form of African Collared Dove, though it may also have some Eurasian Collared Dove ancestry - there don’t seem to have been any molecular genetic studies. None of the main lists (Clements, IOC, HBW) recognise Barbary Dove at species or subspecies level - bird taxonomy traditionally does not recognise domesticated forms, unlike mammalian taxonomy. So the current treatment in iNat is correct taxonomically, according to current consensus. However, there is a good argument for adding Barbary Dove as a ‘variety’ of African Collared Dove, by analogy with the treatment of domestic forms of chicken, turkey, geese etc

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