Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mourning Doves

A mourning dove suns itself on a large boulder in my rock garden.

Like other columbids, the Mourning Dove drinks by suction, without lifting or tilting its head. It often gathers at drinking spots around dawn and dusk.

Mourning doves sunbathe or rainbathe by lying on the ground or on a flat tree limb, leaning over, stretching one wing, and keeping this posture for up to twenty minutes. These birds can also waterbathe in shallow pools or bird baths. Dustbathing is common as well. We have mourning doves all year 'round. They come in winter for seed from our feeders. I love hearing them in the morning. I have loved the sound they make since I was a small child.


Outside the breeding season, Mourning Doves roost communally in dense deciduous trees or in conifers. During sleep, the head rests between the shoulders, close to the body; it is not tucked under the shoulder feathers as in many other species. During the winter in Canada, roosting flights to the roosts in the evening, and out of the roosts in the morning, are delayed on colder day

Mourning Doves get their name from their mournful song. They are a medium-sized wild bird ranging from 9 to 13 inches with a wingspan of 15-18 inches. They weigh between 3.04 and 6 ounces.

Their colors are a grayish brown back with a buff underneath, black spots on the wings, and a black spot shaped like a comma below and behind the eye.

They have a graduated gray tail with longer feathers in the middle and white tips bored with black on the outer feathers. They have a small, thin black bill, dullish red legs and feet and dark brown eyes.

Males are larger than females and show more color with a bluish cap, pink chest and neck feathers and three white outer tail feathers. The female is graced with an olive gray cap and a tan breast. Neck feathers can be greenish or pinkish with one or two white outer feathers. Their wings make a musical whir or whishing noise.

The Mourning Dove eats seeds and feeds on relatively bare ground but can be attracted to gardens and backyard bird feeders.

They can be found across North America breeding from Cuba north to Southern Canada and New England, and wintering from Southern Illinois and New York to the Greater Antilles and Panama.

They feed in pairs or flocks. In the wild they will eat pine nuts, wheat, corn, sesame, canary grass, sweet gum, amaranth and pokeberry seeds. At feeders, they prefer sunflower, safflower and millet seeds.

Nesting Habits:
Mourning Doves breed in all kinds of open areas. They like to build flimsy platforms made of twigs, pine needles and grass stems. They prefer building these platforms in trees, shrubs and other vines growing as high as 50 feet. They will make nests in man-made structures.

They have only two white eggs in each clutch and may have five to six broods a year. They never leave their eggs unattended and both female and male take turns sitting on the nest. They are monogamous and keep the same partner for life, but if a Mourning Dove looses its mate will find a new one.

More Information:
This is a beautiful wild bird that makes its home throughout most of North America. They are at ease in all types of terrain--the deserts of Arizona, northern and eastern forests, the farmland of the Great Plains, and even in populated urban areas.

The Mourning Dove is among the top ten most abundant birds in the United States.Their song sounds like Òcoo-OOH, Ooo-Ooo-OooO. An interesting fact about the Mourning Dove is that when they are building a nest the female stays at the nest site and the male bird collects the sticks. He then stands on her back to give her the sticks and she then weaves them into their nest.

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