Status Common in winter, very rare in summer. The first sightings of Dovekies are generally in late October. They are abundant offshore from November to April, especially along the edge of the Scotian Shelf southwest of Sable Island, but are rarely seen inshore in numbers except during large "wrecks" of weakened birds during late fall.

Description Length: 19-23 cm. Adults in summer: Upperparts glossy black; neck and breast sooty brown; lower breast and belly white; stubby, sparrow-like bill. Adults in winter: Similar but throat and breast white, the breast often tinged with gray.

Range Breeds on the coasts of Greenland and on the high Arctic islands east to western Siberia; there are also very small populations on Baffin Island and Iceland and in the Bering Sea. The bulk of the world population of more than 14 million birds nests in northwestern Greenland and winters off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and occasionally further south.

Remarks This little black and white, web-footed, robin-size bird with "no neck" is often picked up near the coast or even well inland in a weakened condition or dead. Dovekies are notoriously liable to being driven, often in large numbers, far outside their normal winter range by storms; one such bird reached Cuba!
The Dovekie is known to residents along the coasts of Nova Scotia by the name "bull-bird," or"ice bird."


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Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

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