This large, semitropical dove ranges from the southernmost U.S. and Mexico (where it is partially migratory) south through Central America and much of the West Indies. In the United States, the White-winged Dove occurred historically only in the southern regions of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Prior to the 1980s, its area of greatest abundance and density was the lower Rio Grande valley of South Texas, where it was a popular game species. Since that time, however, the species has expanded its range north-ward and can now be found breeding throughout much of the southern United States, as far north as Oklahoma. A growing human population in the southern United States during the final decades of the twentieth century brought increased agriculture and ornamental trees, providing additional feeding and nesting habitat for the species and perhaps contributing to its northward expansion.
An extensive and detailed life history of the White-winged Dove can be found in Cottam and Trefethen 1968. A more concise and recent summary of White-winged Dove ecology, emphasizing its game bird status, is in George et al. 1994. This account focuses on the North and Middle American populations of White-winged Dove as currently classified by the American Ornithologists' Union (American Ornithologists' Union 1998a). The disjunct populations of Pacific coastal South America, known as Pacific Dove (Zenaida meloda), are vocally, morphologically, and genetically distinct, and currently considered a separate species by the American Ornithologists' Union (see Systematics, below).