Adapted from Jim Conrad's online book
A Birding Trip through Mexico
This excerpt from "Above Xoconostle"
in  San Luis Potosí state

INCA DOVES

If you're living the Mexican Dream in your little ranchito with a few orange and banana trees in the backyard and chickens scratching among the weeds, and you throw scraps to your chickens, Inca Doves will probably settle there once the chickens have gobbled the best morsels. Here Inca Doves appear along the trail paralleling the stream and on sandbars.

Bernardino de Sahagún, the Spanish priest who during the 1500's wrote the great history of central Mexico's Aztecs, reports that the Aztecs called Inca Doves cocotli, because the doves' cooing, to the Aztecs' ears, sounded like coco, coco. The Aztecs assured Sahagún that Inca Doves mate for life, and that when they make their sad cooing it's because one of the mates has died. Still, the Aztecs believed that eating the birds was therapeutic. Eating them drove away sadness and, in women, countered jealousy and caused them to forget about men.

Inca Doves don't live as far south as the land of the Inca in Peru but they do occupy an area from the southwestern U.S. to Costa Rica. They don't migrate but during recent times they've been expanding their range northward. In the U.S. they were first recorded only in southern Texas, south of San Antonio but I've seen them in southern Mississippi. The Inca Dove's feathers have dark borders, which give the bird a scaly appearance. Sometimes they are known as Scaled Doves.

In Mexico these little birds are famous for their fights. Sometimes the sound of buffeting wings can be heard two house-lengths from a battling pair. On the other hand, mated pairs of this species, as with most dove species, give the impression that they are excessively affectionate for one another because of their "billing and cooing."