Love them or hate them, Mourning Doves are probably one of the most common and most abundant birds that you will see in your backyard. This dove is the most common dove species in North America from Mexico all the way up to southern Canada. You can even find them in Hawaii and the Caribbean Islands.
Mourning Doves can be found in open woods, urban and suburban backyards, in parks, and on grasslands to name a few. They are not one of my favorites because I get way too many of them in and around my feeders. However, they really aren’t bothersome like Starlings can be sometimes when they all flock in and take over the feeders. And….I do like to hear them cooing especially in the early morning hours.
Did you know that they can be quite different in behavior as compared to other backyard birds. Check out the following amazing facts about them below….
Amazing Facts About Mourning Doves
- Mourning Doves mate for life unless of course something happens to the male or female then it will find another mate. That is not so different from other birds that mate for life, however the interesting part is that in warmer areas, a single pair can have up to six broods annually. Most other birds only have two, three, maybe four broods in a year. Mourning Doves breed from April to July and up to October in some locations.
- Both the male and female build the nest together. This takes over a period of about four days. During this time the male carries materials such as twigs, grass, and pine needles to the female who weaves them into a loose type nest. These nests can be found from five to twenty five feet above the ground.
- Mourning Doves may reuse the same nest several times and have also been known to use the previous nest of other bird species such as a robin and also squirrel’s nests.
- The female almost always lays two eggs which are all white.
- It may appear that the female sits on the nest the entire time (both male and female are pretty similar in appearance) but actually the male takes turns with her sitting on the nest during the day while she is on it at night.
- It takes two weeks to incubate the eggs and the young will leave the nest within twelve to fourteen days.
- Both the male and the female secrete a substance from their crop which they feed to their young. A crop is an enlarged part of the esophagus which is used to store food and to soften food to make it easier to digest.
- Mourning Doves do not sip water like most birds. Most birds have to tilt their heads back in order for the liquid to go down their throats. Doves actually can sip water like humans do.
- Mourning Doves can fly at speeds of up to fifty five miles an hour. Compare that to a Blue jay that can only travel at speeds up to twenty five miles per hour. Some hawks such as the
- This bird eats twelve to twenty percent of its body weight per day, eating mostly seeds including millet, nyger/thistle, safflower, and sunflower seeds. They eat cracked corn too. Mourning Doves are ground feeders so if you want to attract them to your yard, scatter the above types of seeds on the ground in open places. Or there are also ground platform feeders that you can use too.
- The male is the one who makes all the cooing which sounds like it is in mourning. That is where this dove got its name.
- Mourning Doves only live about five years in the wild. In captivity this bird can live up to twenty years.
- Males and females are pretty similar in appearance with the exception that the male has a bluish tint on its head with a pinkish chest and the female has a tan tint on her head with a slightly paler pink chest. Adults can range from nine to thirteen inches in length with the males being slightly bigger.
- There are other dove species besides the Mourning Dove. In fact in North America there are fifteen types of doves, ground doves, and quail doves.
- Predators of the Mourning Dove are falcons and hawks. From my observation, the Cooper’s Hawk especially likes this bird as they are always hunting for them in our yard. When you hear a thunder of doves taking off suddenly you know that there has to be a Cooper’s Hawk coming in for its dinner. This hawk can accelerate quickly at speeds up to 60 miles per hour and would have no problem overtaking a dove either.
- Mourning Doves are migratory birds. Because of this they are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act allows some states to conduct managed hunts for them, however you must have a small game, sportsman’s or patron’s license to hunt them.
The Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant bird species in North America. They can be found in open areas in parks, suburban and urban areas, and grasslands. I’m sure you probably have them in your own backyard. You will be able to recognize one by their cooing sound (made by the male) which sounds like it is in mourning. This is how this dove got its name.
Mourning Doves can be enjoyable birds to have in and around your feeders too, as they are a pretty peaceful bird. If you want to attract them in to your feeders place millet, sunflower, or safflower seed on the ground as they are mainly ground feeders. Or if you have a platform feeder like we do they will come in to it too.
How about you? Do you get Mourning Doves in your backyard? I would love to hear your comments about them. Please feel free to do so below.
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I always loved mourning doves when I live in the States. I am currently living (and most likely retire) here in southern Thailand. Im in the city of Surat Thani, which is close to the Malaysian border.
I was wondering if you could give me some info or internet sites where I could learn more about birds in my area. There are many different species, but dont know how to go about finding out more about them. I knew so much about bird watching and species pretty much up and down the East Coast of the US, now would love learning about them here.
Thank you in advance for any help you could give me.
I enjoyed reading the article about the mourning doves, even though I knew most of it.
Thank you for your comments I appreciate it. Have you googled “birding in southern thailand”. I just did and several sites came up. thaibirding.com was one along with sites that have birding tours that you can take. You may want to start there and ask them for information. Also there are birding books on Amazon (i.e. Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand, Birds of Southeast Asia) that you may want to look into. I would love to see those birds!
I hope this helps. Let me know and feel free to send me photos of birds that you see. I would love that!
We have both Mourning Doves and Collared Doves come to our feeder in Parker, Colorado. The Collared Doves stay all year. But the Mourning Doves migrate away in the winter. Sometimes a migratory bird like a Robin or Mourning Dove will stay longer or not leave at all, if the winter is mild.
Doves are an interesting bird to watch. We get only Mourning Doves that stay all year and Robins all the time. I bet you have a good mix of other birds too. My husband and I love to visit Colorado. We usually stay in Estes Park where we see Dippers which can be found along the water falls. Thanks for your comments.
I think I have an active nest/couple about 2 feet from my window on top of a lot pile?!?
MJ, that is highly possible. You will get some good views when the young are hatched. Thanks for your comments.
I grew up with these little guys never knowing what they were, I just heard their coo in the morning and loved it. I eventually figured out what they were and I adore them. Beautiful birds.
When I was a kid my grandmother lived out in a rural area and I would hear Mourning Doves early in the wee hours of the morning when I stayed at her house. I loved the coo-ing sound and still do. Where I live in Southeast Wisconsin I put out bird seed year round, and I have several pairs of Mourning Doves that stay year round and a few have nests in pine trees in my yard. One pair of them is sitting on a nest that likely has eggs. Sadly one of the other nests was disturbed and I think one of the Mourning Doves was preyed upon likely by a barn cat from a horse stable nearby. The surviving one of the pair now sits in a covered platform feeder I have on and off during the day. The bird didn’t do that prior to the nest being disturbed. I was thinking about getting a nesting box to place somewhere in the yard to see if the Dove will use it. And yes, I’m probably too invested of the birds that hang out in my yard.
Bree, that is a nice memory. I really enjoy the sound of Mourning Doves too. They sound so peaceful. There’s nothing wrong with being too invested with the birds :-). Thanks for your comment.