The Ruddy Quail-Dove is widespread in the lowlands of the Neotropics, from northern Mexico south to northern Argentina. It occurs throughout the Greater Antilles, and in the Lesser Antilles on Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada.
In Central America in occurs on both slopes from Mexico south to El Salvador (Howell and Webb 1995). It is present only on the Atlantic slope of Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as in Costa Rica and Panama; the distribution on the Pacific slope resumes in southern Costa Rica (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Howell and Webb 1995).
The Ruddy Quail-Dove often is described as resident (e.g. Panama, Wetmore 1968; Costa Rica, Stiles and Skutch 1989; Mexico, Howell and Webb 1995; Caribbean, Raffaele et al. 1998; Venezuela, Hilty 2003; Peru, Schulenberg et al. 2007). Stouffer and Bierregaard (1993), however, document dramatic changes in abundance, or even its periodic absence, at a site in Amazonian Brazil. Stouffer and Bierregaard (1993) suggest that these movements are large scale irruptive movements in search of food resources, rather than regular migrations.