The Gray-headed Dove is found over much of the Caribbean slope of Middle America, from eastern Mexico south to western Panama, before reappearing on the Pacific coast of Colombia. As many as four subspecies are generally recognized, but those populations in southwest Panama are sometimes afforded specific recognition under the name Brown-backed Dove (Leptotila battyi). Like other Leptotila doves, the Gray-headed Dove is most frequently encountered on the ground, although it is equally arboreal, and occurs in a variety of forest types. In Mesoamerica, the Gray-headed Dove is found exclusively below 1500 m, but it ranges distinctly higher in Colombia, being generally found above 1000 m in this country, and locally to 2600 m. This species overlaps in range with several congenerics, including Pallid Dove (Leptotila pallida), Gray-chested Dove (Leptotila cassini), and the significantly more widespread White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi). Close attention to vocals, as well as orbital ring color, the amount and pattern of white in the tail, and the relative colors of the head, neck, and mantle are useful distinguishing characters.