Mourning doves are one of the common birds around the world. Almost anyone, including children, can recognize them either from their distinct brownish tan color or from unique cooing sound.
Other than just recognizing them, what else do you know about them?! If not much, then, these 15 interesting facts about mourning doves will teach you something new. And, that knowledge will help you to look at these beautiful birds from a new perspective next time you see them.
FACTS ABOUT MOURNING DOVES: 1-10
- Mourning doves mate for a life.
Mourning doves are monogamous birds. Well, everybody likes loyalty. It appears that these humble doves could actually outperform some people in loyalty race.
According to the American Dove Association, mourning doves stay with their partner for a life, or at least until one of them dies. Unfortunately, they do not live a long life in the wilderness because of their fierce predators, such as hawks, owls and falcons. Humans also hunt them because they are considered game birds.
- Mourning doves prefer seeds and eat about 20 percent of their body weight daily.
When it comes down to their diet, contrary to many birds, mourning doves are not a big fan of insects. 99% of their diet consists of seeds such as grass seeds, grains, and herb seeds. Time to time, they also eat snails and berries.
- A male mourning dove brings twigs, and female weaves a nest out of them.
In other words, male doves are providers and females are weavers. They usually build their nest from grass stems and twigs in just 10 hours. Although they may reuse the same nest several times, they do not build permanent nests as, for example, cliff swallows do. Their nests are flimsy and include very little insulation for young ones.
The size of their nest is about 8 inches (about 20 centimeters) in diameter. Sometimes, they also use nests built by other birds.
- If they feel a threat, they just leave their nests and eggs.
It is not recommended moving mourning dove nests because they can easily abandon their eggs and go somewhere else for nesting. Same applies for helping them with nest building. Some of the kind-hearted people, see their nest condition and try to make it cozy using human creativity. But, by doing so, people actually scare them off instead of helping them.
- Mourning doves can live up to 5 years if they survive their first year.
According to the wild bird watching site, their mortality rate is 75 percent in their first year. Because once the eggs hatch, baby doves (squabs) become easy victims of extreme weather and natural predation.
- An average size of a mourning dove is about 9-14 inches (22-36 cm).
Adult doves weigh about 4.2 ounces (120 grams). Male and female mourning doves have a similar appearance. In some cases, they very hard to differentiate. However, male ones are little bigger compared to females.
- Male mourning doves make cooing sound.
This is one of the best ways to apart male mourning dove from a female. Because almost in all cases, males make cooing when they try to attract females. Males also make soft murmuring sound especially when other males come near to their perches.
- During the breeding period, male and female mourning doves sleep side by side.
Male and female doves act like a true family during the breeding period. If not in the breeding period, they join the flock of 20 doves and roost as a team.
- A mourning dove lays only two eggs each time during their breeding period.
Two eggs are their golden standard for each time. It takes somewhere between 14 to 16 days until eggs hatch completely. Touching their eggs is not recommended at all since it can lead to abandonment or low probability of hatching. Plus, dove eggs are so fragile that it can crack easily.
- Both male and female mourning doves incubate their eggs together.
Usually, males incubate during the day shift and females do their part during the night. Once the eggs hatch, the pair starts feeding their babies (squabs) with their “pigeon milk” by taking turns. It takes about 5-6 days until squabs start adapting to seeds.
FACTS ABOUT MOURNING DOVES: 11-15
- Young mourning doves leave their nest when they are 15 days old.
Even after leaving their nest, they stick around another couple weeks to be fed by their parents.
- It was called mourning dove because of its sad cooing sound.
Although its cooing may sound somewhat mournful, in fact, it is a beautiful love song which is sung by male doves in order to attract their female partners.
- Mourning doves are fast fliers.
According to the observation, mourning doves can fly up to 55 miles per hour (88.5 km/h)
- Mourning doves are officially called Zenaida Macroura for the honor of princess Zenaida
The scientific name of these beautiful birds is Zenaida Macroura. It was named “Zenaida” for the honor of princess Zenaida Charlotte Julie Bonaparte who the cousin and the wife of the famous zoologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte. The second-word “Macroura”, which means “long-tailed” in Greek, was added to describe the doves’ long tail.
- Mourning doves have various other names
It is possible that you may recognize the mourning doves with another name because they are also called rain dove, turtle dove, Carolina pigeon, Carolina turtledove, and American mourning dove.
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