Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis open access



First Advisor

Troy Murphy


The white-winged dove and the mourning dove are two closely related North American Columbid species that display aggressive wing-slapping behavior. This behavior, observed in several avian families, is sometimes accompanied by weaponizing osteological modifications to the carpometacarpus bone. I hypothesized the existence of such weapons in white-winged and mourning doves due to their common use of wing-slapping. To explore this hypothesis, I made two predictions based on patterns of modification in birds with well documented weaponry. I predicted that, if weaponry exists in these birds, 1) white-winged doves will show greater weaponization than mourning doves, and 2) males of each species will show greater weaponization than females. To test these predictions, I collected wing bones from 38 doves and analyzed 19 linear measures of each wing. There was no significant difference in bone size or shape between species, and no significant sexual dimorphism in mourning doves. However, in white-winged doves, there was significant sexual dimorphism in the height of the carpometacarpal extensor process, a feature that is commonly modified in weapon-bearing birds. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that white-winged doves possess weaponizing bone modifications. Possibilities for further study of possible weaponry in white-winged doves are explored.