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Manu Minute: The zebra dove

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson Zebra dove pair, AMT_8244.jpg
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Zebra doves usually mate for life. Males draw attention to themselves during mating season by incessantly bowing, cooing, and flaring their tail feathers.

The coo coo coo-ing call of the zebra dove is likely familiar to anyone who's ever waited outside for the bus, stopped to rest on a park bench, or enjoyed a picnic on a sunny day. Zebra doves, which were introduced to Hawaiʻi in the 1920s, are an integral part of our urban soundscape.

These little birds, also called barred ground doves, are so commonplace that it's easy to dismiss them as we go about our business. But in Thailand, a zebra dove's song is cause for celebration.

For over three decades, Thailand's Yala province was home to the ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival, which held — get this — cooing competitions!

Hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of zebra doves compete to see which bird has the most melodious call. Keep that in mind next time a zebra dove comes a-cooing at your door.

AMTJ_Zebra dove Spectrogram video.mp4

Audio credit: Peter Boesman; Macaulay Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (ML281154)

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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