White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
During spring in the Sonoran Desert, the air is filled with the mating call of the white-winged dove. Their hoots and coos are so abundant that they sometimes drown out the sounds of other birds.
However noisy the white-winged dove might be, they play a very important role in the life cycle of the saguaro cactus. When saguaros flower, white-winged doves move from flower to flower, sipping nectar and pollinating the plant. Once the flowers become fruit, the doves have a new food source. The sweet fruit is filled with thousands of tiny seeds, which pass unharmed through the digestive system of the dove. If seeds are passed while the dove is perched on a tree or bush, that tree or bush might become a nurse plant to the growing saguaro. Such a plant protects the young saguaro from extreme weather and animals and greatly increases its chances of survival.
Size: 11.5 in. Wingspan: 19 in.
Diet: Seeds and fruit
Did You Know?
The average life span of a saguaro cactus is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2000 pounds).