Birdhouses 101 - Mourning Dove



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Mourning Dove

About The Mourning Dove

Mourning DoveThe Mourning Dove is probably one of the most common bird species, being quite adaptable to human territory. They can be found all over North and Central America, as well as in Panama and the Caribbean region. This specie measures 12 inches long, its color a soft combined shade of gray and brown, with dark spots on the wings. One may recognize them in flight upon seeing their long pointing tail. Mourning Doves are black-billed, and known to have orange colored legs, and pale blue ring surrounding its dark eye.

The Mourning Dove Nesting Preferences

The nest of a Mourning Dove is typically built by piling pine needles, twigs, weeds and grass. It tends to be fragile, as sudden movement from an incubating mother can cause the eggs to fall through the bottom, although Mourning Doves have been known to reuse a nest for up to 5 broods. It may be found perched between the altitudes of 5 to 25 feet, placed at an intersection of sturdy branches. Mourning Doves usually have 2 to 3 eggs at a time, to be incubated in a period of 14 to 15 days. Incubation is continuous, with the male and female taking turns. After hatching, the young ones take 12 to 14 days before leaving their motherís nest. The mother is able to produce a milky substance that is fed to the young ones through its mouth. The Mourning Dove is noted as a migratory type.

Building a Birdhouse For The Mourning Dove

Mourning DoveIn place of a full birdhouse, a platform is most ideal for attracting Mourning Doves. The base should be 8 inches x 8 inches, with a ceiling height of 8 inches. The front of the platform should be open, while the sides partly open. In a backyard setting, the platform should be placed on the side of a shed or garage at a height between 7 to 14 feet, directly above or overlooking garden areas and open spaces. Its ideal location must have predator defense, elements of nature, convenient access, changing exposure to sunlight, and visibility.

The Mourning Dove Mating Habits

Breeding partners often stick together for a very long time. Partners will often keep to themselves, busy caring for their close families at breeding season and while raising the younglings. This breedís cooing, however cheerless it may sound, actually marks the commencement of such important periods as asserting territory, nesting, and raising its young ones.

The Mourning Dove Feeding Preferences

Mourning Doves like to feed on waste grains, such as corn, wheat, and weed seeds. Feeder supply may include sunflower seeds (oil type), and cracked corn.

Interesting Mourning Dove Facts

Mourning DoveNoted for the funny way they walk, Mourning Doves may be found flocking together on roads, yards, and city streets. Any slight threat from predators can easily drive away a nesting couple, leaving eggs and younglings behind. Open areas with trees and bushes are a common habitat preference for this specie. These birds can be found almost anywhere, save for dense forest areas and wetland. Its scientific name is Zenaida macroura, classified under the order Columbiformes, family Columbidae.

Readers Comments


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Marlene Carlton  5/24/2007)
We wanted to put some seed out for the doves in our backyard but they dont seem to want it on a shallow plate or scattered on the ground. Does anyone have a clue how to present the seed to them? marlc@sbcglobal.net


Kelly  Barber  6/20/2007)
They didnt seem picky at all at our feeder. We use mixed seed and they eat it after it has fallen on the ground. They have just recently stopped visiting, I believe because of the overpopulation of sparrows. That could be a factor if you have sparrows or other birds beating them out.


Toni Perkins  6/22/2007)
Doves nest on my second floor balcony in a 12 pot I prepared for them. They have come every spring for the past 8 years and they stay until fall. As of June 21, the third brood has left the nest and same day they are working on the 4th. It could be two different pairs of birds, but I enjoy having them as guests of my birdie hotel! I have never fed them because I dont want to attract other birds to the area.


emily garrick  1/14/2008)
I think that females are much skinnnier than males evan when they are laying eggs in there nest. Also that I think that they sound pretty. they sit a lot to. i aslo have a question how many egs can they lay whsat is the most eggs they can lay? Thanks, Emily


Phil and Sue Metzler  3/4/2008)
For some reason, a pair of doves have taken to liking the roof of our Blue Toyota Highlander SUV!! We chase them away but they keep coming back. Do they think it is a platform for building a nest, or a mating meeting place?? We are puzzled. By the way we are in Key Largo, FL and there are doves all over the place here. Any thoughts?


Astrid Yrigollen  5/25/2016)
Mourning doves need to eat very small seeds so keep this in mind when choosing seed. Their beaks are small. They like the mixes of white small seeds and brownish I think this is millet. I spread the seed on the ground for the sparrows and in various places like by my pond and on flat flagstones. They like to have an area that is not crowded and where water is readily availble for them. I have a group of 10-15 regulars that visit ever mrning and through out the day. On occasion they will hold a mourning dove 'meeting ' in my back yard onthe grass and there will be about 30-40 of them.


Denise Mc  5/25/2016)
we actually had a mourning dove lay its nest in our flower pot on our front porch. this dove returns yearly for about 4 years now and sings at times on my bedroom window.


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