Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is sometimes called the Turtledove.It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also a leading game bird.

Mourning Doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar with overall beige feathers slightly darker on the wings and tail. A gray or faint pink wash can be seen on the head, neck and chest, and mature birds have a black cheek spot that may be difficult to see. Black spots are prominent on the wings. The tail is long and pointed, edged with white on the outer feathers. Males have an iridescent neck patch and both genders have a pale blue gray eye ring. Legs and feet are red.

Mourning Doves are generally monogamous. They may have two to six broods per year with usually two eggs per brood. This high breeding rate is essential due to the high mortality rate that may approach 58% a year for mature birds and 69% for fledglings. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning Doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.They are extremely territorial during the breeding season which is almost year around.

The Mourning Dove lives in a wide variety of open and semi-open habitats, such as urban areas, farms, prairie, grassland, and lightly wooded areas. It avoids swamps and thick forest. Click on image for more info.

Fun Facts

Mourning Doves produce a mournful cooing sound which is probably responsible for its memorable common name.

Both Mourning Dove parents feed their young on “crop milk,” a yogurt-like secretion produced by the walls of their crop. It takes both parents to provide enough food for the growing nestlings. If one parent is lost during the nestlings’ first seven days, the young will not be able to survive on the food produced by the lone remaining adult.

The feathers of a Mourning Dove are loosely attached to their skin and serve as a means of escape by easily pulling free when grabbed by a predator.

Mourning Doves’ have been clocked at flying speeds between 40-55 mph.

Doves are one of the few species of birds that drink by sucking up their water instead of taking a bill full of water

Doves are one of the few species of birds that drink by sucking up their water instead of taking a bill full of water and letting it trickle down their throat. It can suck up its total daily requirement in less than 20 seconds.