The Mourning Dove
First and almost foremost, the common name of this species is Mourning Dove as opposed to the common misnomer, Morning Dove. It is called the Mourning Dove because of the mournful sound of its cooing.
Mourning Doves are one of the most widespared species of wild birds in North America. They are found throughout most of the continental United States and into Southern Canada and Northern Mexico. Mourning Doves are considered gamebirds in many states but are a protected species of songbird in a few states.
The scientific name of this species is Zenaida Macroura. The Macroura is Greek for "large or long tailed". The species' scientific name was bestowed in 1838 by French zoologist Charles L. Bonaparte in honor of his wife, Princess Zénaide.
This photo gives you a very clear idea of the long tail:
The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized, slender dove approximately 31 cm (12 in) in length. Mourning Doves weigh an average of 4 to 6 ounces. The elliptical wings are broad, and the head is rounded. Its tail is long and tapered. Mourning Doves have perching feet, with three toes forward and one reversed. The legs are short and reddish colored. The beak is short and dark, usually a brown-black hue.
The plumage is generally light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spotting, and the outer tail feathers are white, contrasting with the black inners. Below the eye is a distinctive crescent-shaped area of dark feathers. The eyes are dark, with light skin surrounding them. The adult male has bright purple-pink patches on the neck sides, with light pink coloring reaching the breast. The crown of the adult male is a distinctly bluish-grey color. Females are similar in appearance, but with more brown coloring overall. The iridescent feather patches on the neck above the shoulders are nearly absent, but can be quite vivid on males. Juvenile birds have a scaly appearance, and are generally darker.
Turn your speakers up and click this link to hear a Mourning Dove: Mourning Dove Vocalization
Open fields, parks, and lawns with many trees and shrubs. The Mourning Dove avoids swamps and thick forest lands. In urban areas, Mourning Doves will readily nest in hanging flower pots, on wall mounted porch lights, and in ornamental potted shrubs on patios and porches.
Courtship begins with a noisy flight by the male, followed by a graceful, circular glide with outstretched wings and head down. After landing, the male will approach the female with a puffed out breast, bobbing head, and loud calls. Mated pairs will often preen each other's feathers.
The male then leads the female to potential nest sites, and the female will choose one. The female dove builds the nest. The male will fly about, gather material, and bring it to her. The male will stand on the female's back and give the material to the female, who then builds it into the nest. The nest is constructed of twigs, conifer needles, or grass blades, and is of flimsy construction. Mourning doves will sometimes requisition the unused nests of other Mourning Doves, other birds, or arboreal mammals like squirrels.
Most nests are in trees, both deciduous and coniferous. Sometimes, they can be found in shrubs, vines, or on artificial constructs like buildings, or hanging flower pots. When there is no suitable elevated object, Mourning Doves will nest on the ground.
The clutch size is almost always two eggs. Occasionally, however, a female will lay her eggs in the nest of another pair, leading to three or four eggs in the nest. The eggs are small and white. Both sexes incubate, the male from morning to afternoon, and the female the rest of the day and at night. Mourning Doves are devoted parents; nests are very rarely left unattended by the adults. When flushed from the nest, an incubating parent may perform a nest-distraction display, or a broken-wing display, fluttering on the ground as if injured, then flying away when the predator approaches it.
Mourning Doves eat almost exclusively seeds. Rarely, they will eat snails or insects. Mourning Doves generally eat enough to fill their crops and then fly away to digest while resting. They often swallow grit such as fine gravel or sand to assist with digestion. The species usually forages on the ground, walking but not hopping. At bird feeders, Mourning Doves are attracted to one of the largest ranges of seed types of any North American bird, with a preference for corn, millet, safflower, and sunflower seeds. Mourning Doves do not dig or scratch for seeds, instead eating what is readily visible.
Mourning Doves show a preference for the seeds of certain species of plant over others. Foods taken in preference to others include pine nuts, sweetgum seeds, and the seeds of pokeberry, amaranth, canary grass, corn, sesame, and wheat. When their favorite foods are absent, Mourning Doves will eat the seeds of other plants, including buckwheat, rye, goosegrass and smartweed.
The Mourning Dove has a large range of nearly 6.8 million square miles. The species is resident throughout the Greater Antilles, most of Mexico, the Continental United States, and southern Canada. Much of the Canadian prairies sees these birds in summer only, and southern Central America sees them in winter only. Mourning Doves breed from southeastern Alaska, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick southward to Mexico and Panama.
Mourning Doves are very common here in Southern California. Thus, I see lots and lots of them coming in each and every year. They are a state and federally protected species, so I am unable to keep them for long term rehab and have to transfer them to permitted individuals and facilities. Those that do spend a short time here are typically frantic in captivity if they are adults or older juveniles. These birds will literally flail themselves to near death in a cage, and they need to be very carefully treated and handled. They will also shed feathers like you would not believe as a method of escaping the predator (in this case, me). Baby Mourning Doves are really no different than other members of the Columbiforme family .. if you keep them warm and feed them, they will do fine and will have little fear of you.
Most of the Mourning Doves that come across my path are ill or injured juveniles or adults. Mourning Doves are prone to all the same common diseases and problems that our beloved domestic pigeons are. Pox and canker are the two big ones. After that comes hawk attacked, cat/dog attacked, hit by car, and assorted human caused problems.
Baby Mourning Dove:
Juvenile Mourning Dove:
Just Google Mourning Dove .. you will find TONS of links! And probably some where I "gleaned" some of this information!
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