Monday, April 29, 2013

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are the most abundant and widespread of the doves, they are found throughout the US and in southern Canada.  Except in the most northern reaches of it's territory, Mourning Doves are year round residents.  

Mourning Dove's wings make a distinctive whistling sound when they take flight.  They are about the size of a Blue Jay, (11-13 inches long) with gray and tan markings, a long white trimmed tapering tail, and orange feet.  Males can be distinguished by a rose tinted breast.  During courtship, the male can be seen bowing and doing a sort of wing flap dance.  

Mourning Doves feed on the ground, eating mainly grains and bugs.  During nestling, a gland inside their crop produces a thick liquid.  The baby bird reaches inside the parent's beak to eat this "pigeon milk".

The nest is a flimsy collection of twigs.  During nest construction, the female remains at the nest site while the male gathers twigs.  He delivers them one at the time to the female.  

Male and female share in the incubation of (on average) two eggs.  They hold to a rather strict schedule, remaining on the nest for their full shift.  The male's shift is morning until evening and the female's shift is evening until morning.  After 14-15 days, the young hatch and nestling lasts 12-13 days.  Fledgling takes about a week, during which time the youngsters perch near the nest and gradually move further away until they finally join a flock of other Mourning Doves.

Hear the Mourning Dove's voice
This call is heard throughout the breeding season, especially by males looking for a mate.  Another shorter call is used by males and females to talk to each other, mostly while nesting.  This call sounds like the first three notes of the longer call. 


  1. Lately, in my neighborhood, we've had an influx of cardinals and hawks.

    Good post.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    Hope all is well with you.

  2. We've had mourning doves hanging around our homes for years. We found an injured dove twenty years ago, nursed her back to health and released her, and ever since, we've had doves turning up at our door for breakfast.

  3. I always thought they were called morning doves because of that strict schedule but I guess I learned something here. Thanks Lynn!

  4. I've always liked the sound of their calls.