Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) with attractive zebra-like bands

Geopelia striata (Zebra Dove) –

A flock of Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)Locally known in Malaysia as ‘Burung Merbok’, these Zebra Doves are marvelous to look at as they go about pecking at the edge of the tarred road outside our front yard. Visiting daily and sort of routine-like, they seem oblivious of the surroundings and vehicles plying the route. Sometimes, the Zebra Dove forages alone, and at other times seen in company of two to five.

Hehe, I just had to create a flock of them as seen in this image above since I can never get a picture of them altogether however hard I’ve tried. A collage of five shots actually of a single dove, ;) busily ‘gorging’ with whatever are available on the ground. Probably feeding on the short grass, weeds and rice grains washed down from my neighbour’s dog house, plus drinking from the mossy puddles created on the uneven road surface!

The Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) behind our back yardWe’re so blessed to be able to catch a view of at least one or two of these doves almost daily. This pretty dove was seen foraging on the ground just outside our back yard fence, shielded from the prying eyes of our darling pet dog, Maxi. Hehe, just because he’s the residing king at the back yard, he’ll bark his head off at any living animal or bird that dare step foot or fly into his domain! Even cats strolling outside really agitates him into action!

This Geopelia striata (Zebra Dove) was seen sourcing for food at my neighbour's back yardGeopelia striata is quite a small bird (20-23 cm long), sturdy and slender, with a long narrow tail and wedge-shaped wings that span to about 24-26 cm. Spotting attractive features, with bluish grey cheeks, blue skin encircling the eyes and pale grey beak; crown and neck brown, the upper parts brownish-grey with small crescent-shaped brownish-black bars; the underparts are pinkish, with black and white zebra-like bands on the sides of neck, breast and belly, hence the name Zebra Dove; feet are pinkish brown and also banded.

Its call is a series of soft, staccato cooing notes, with several different versions that vary according to its moods – mostly a low coo-crr-coo, a gentle crr-crr or a melodious coo-coo-crr, with emphasis on the last note. Lovely to hear! Reminds me of those wonderful years almost 3 decades ago when John, my beloved hubby used to rear a few caged birds which included the Zebra Dove, as a hobby. And the amazing thing was the pet dove always cooed the minute it heard its master had returned home from work! Incredible…without seeing, it was able to sense John’s return as he drove into the driveway!

In fact, Zebra Doves are popularly kept as caged birds worldwide, especially in Thailand and Malaysia for their delightful and loud cooing. Some owners even keep and train their doves specially for cooing contests!


  • Scientific name: Geopelia striata (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Common name: Zebra Dove, Peaceful Dove, Barred Dove (the latter two names have now been referred to other Geopelia species)
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Aves (Birds)
  • Order: Columbiformes
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Geopelia
  • Species: striata

Distribution: Native to Southern Thailand, Tenasserim and Peninsular Malaysia to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok. It can now be found in Central to Northern Thailand, Laos, Borneo, Sulawesi, Hawaii, Tahiti, New Caledonia, the Seychelles, the Chagos Archipelago, Mauritius and Saint Helena.

Habitat: Dry and open habitat with scrub vegetation or wooded areas, farmland and villages, as well as cultivated urban areas including parks, gardens and outdoor food courts. Also found in mangroves. At night, the Zebra Doves roost high in trees, with preference in coconut palms.

Feeding: Feed on grass and weed seeds, even eat insects and small invertebrates. They prefer to forage on bare ground and short grass, on roads, sidewalks, garden lawns and parks, even sourcing bread crumbs or food littered around dining tables.

External links: Check Wikipedia and Naturia for more information.

There are five species in the genus Geopelia, comprising the following doves –

  1. Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)
  2. Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)
  3. Barred Dove (Geopelia maugei)
  4. Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata)
  5. Bar Shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis)

The Geopelia doves are similar in that they are small, with long and graduated tails and clothed in either barred or spotted plumage, yet possess distinguishable features. Get to know more about their similarities and differences, plus images here, a wonderful site to explore! :D

Update: January 15, 2009
I am so delighted to have captured these 2 photos of a Geopelia dove on Dec. 27 2008. It remained just outside our front gate and was such a willing model! :D

Geopelia striata (Zebra Dove) Geopelia striata (Zebra Dove)

Last edit: May 30, 2016

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2 Responses to “Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) with attractive zebra-like bands”

  1. Pandit Says:

    Hi there, nice work on therse lovely birds. If you had managed to put in the song of the birds would have been really excellant,. great staff anyway. with regards dove lover…

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks for your kind comments, Pandit. I agree…Its song is something I would have loved to include here if only I knew how to. This idea did cross my mind when we recently had the bulbul birds nesting in our garden and we had many opportunies to enjoy their chatterings that vary according to their moods. :D

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