Quail-Doves (Geotrygon) are heavy bodied doves with a short tail and short tarsi. One of the most distinctive features of White-faced Quail-Dove is the white face: the face is whitish, and the crown and nape are blue gray. The upperparts otherwise generally are dark rufous, with a purple gloss on the back. There also is a pattern of distinct dark furrows on each side of the neck. The underparts are pale cinnamon. The sexes of White-faced Quail-Dove are similar.
Ruddy Quail-Dove (Geotrygon montana) is smaller, lacks the ontrasting whitish face. and has a distinctive dark stripe on the side of the face. Leptoptila doves have browner upperparts, white tips to the outer rectrices, and whiter or grayer underparts.
The following description is based on Ridgway (1916):
Adult: Sexes similar. Forecrown dull white or grayish white, shading through pale gray on the crown to deeper gray on the rear crown and nape; center of the nape darker and more brownish. Hindneck cinnamon brown; sides of neck cinnamon brown, but the feathers with paler tips; also, a series of parallel dark furrows on each side of the neck. Rest of upperparts chestnut, the back (especially the upper back) glossed with bluish violet. Primary coverts and primaries dusky grayish brown or dark dusky. Lower sides of the head pale grayish buff. Chin and throat pale buff. Breast buffy grayish, becoming paler, more cinnamon buff, on belly; undertail coverts dull cinnamon buff. Underwing coverts rufescent.
Juvenile: Upperparts dark brown, broadly barred with dusky. Crown paler brown, forecrown even paler, sometimes narrowly barred with dusky. Breast and sides tawny brown, narrowly barred with dusky.
White-faced Quail-Dove probably follows the complex basic molt strategy. Specimens collected in El Salvador in May were undergoing heavy molt, including of the remiges and rectrices, and so this presumably is the prebasic molt.
Iris: orange, red, orange-red
Orbital ring and postocular spot: red; ocular region: blue gray
Tarsi and toes: red or rosy red
Bare parts color data from Ridgway (1916) and Dickey and van Rossem (1938).
Total length: 28-26 cm (Ridgway 1916), 29-31.5 cm (Howell and Webb 1995)
Linear measurements (from Ridgway 1916):
male (n = 12)
wing length: mean 151.2 mm (range 144.5-161 mm)
tail length: mean 95.3 mm (range 89-106 mm)
bill length (exposed culmen): mean 14.6 mm (range 14-15.5 mm)
tarsus length: mean 41.2 mm (range 40-44 mm)
female (n = 8)
wing length: mean 148.7 mm (range 140-157.5 mm)
tail length: mean 91.2 mm (range 80.5-102.5 mm)
bill length (exposed culmen): mean 14.8 mm (range 13-16.5 mm)
tarsus length: mean 40.7 mm (range 39-44 mm)
Mass: mean 238 ± 62.4 g (range 158-339 g (!), n = 11, sex undetermined; Dunning 2008)