15 Interesting Facts about Mourning Doves

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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


  1. 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.

Mourning dove facts
Newly hatched mourning dove squabs
  1. 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.

  1. Mourning doves are fast fliers.

According to the observation, mourning doves can fly up to 55 miles per hour (88.5 km/h)

  1. 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.

  1. 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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Note: If you know any facts about mourning doves, you can contribute them on comments sections.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
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17 replies on “15 Interesting Facts about Mourning Doves”

A few days ago, one of ten or twelve mourning doves that feed on my deck hit my window and died. It was very sad. I took it down to the end of my property and rested it in some cedars.
After that, I’ve only had one dove come to the feeders, a couple of blue jays and am fighting away a couple of squirrels.
Is it because of the dove dying or are the squirrels scaring them away?

Dear Brenda,

That is indeed a sad story. Sounds like something really scared them off. Otherwise, the morning dove wouldn’t jam into your window in the first place. I guess that they either saw some scary predators such as hawks or it can be squirrels that scared them away. However, it is a good sign that if one of the doves still comes to the feeder because he or she may bring others soon. I also suggest changing your feed. Mourning doves like sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, wheat.

I have a blueblrd house. Each year when it’s time for a new baby
chick or two bluedbirds to hatch, mourning doves show up for a few days and seem to be interested until the baby bluebirds are born. Then
the bluebirds and doves disappear and go their separate ways…

Dear Joe,

That is something interesting. Some people witnessed that blue jays and mourning doves do not get a long that well. However, it is nature and it is unpredictable. My best guest is that mourning doves were curious about the nesting area and feed around it.

A few weeks ago outside my bathroom window my son noticed a dove nest but he wasn’t aware that the mama dove had laid two eggs…it was actually me who noticed the two eggs…I was so happy at the same time very scared because the nest wasn’t at the safe place…I don’t know why they had nest outside my window…I was watching over the nest and the eggs from my window just to make sure the eggs are fine…one day when I was watching the nest and the eggs I think the noise of the blinds startled the bird and the eggs fell along with nest …I ran outside just to make sure the eggs were fine…saw eggs were fine …it didn’t crack or anything…A few days later I saw two baby birds…I was so happy…saw mama dove feeding the babies…I was still scared…as their nest was not at the safe place…so many times the nest was half way down…I tried my best to put it back and the bird did let me do it…she wasn’t scared or anything…today is the saddest day I saw the nest fell but the bird was still sitting on the babies …so I put the nest back up by the side of the dove ….I also put some grass not on them but on the side as there was nothing else for them to feel safe…after an hr when I check the nest fell again and both the babies died…I’m so sad…I was watching over them every day…I don’t know what I did wrong.I feel so sad…I saw the whole process the eggs the babies…I don’t know what the mama and daddy dove are going through…I still see one dove watching over the dead babies…I wanna bury the babies but I’m afraid as the dove might get angry and attack me…I feel horrible.Do the Doves get sad when they loose their babies.How can I burry the baby doves.

Dear Shikhs.

First of all, sorry to hear about the situation you have faced. I think you did all you could. It is nature. Unfortunately, things like that happen quite often. It is not unusual to see mourning dove nests around the human-made structures. In your case, they chose the inconvenient location. The next year, they will choose a better place to nest. As I mentioned in the post, the survival rate of mourning doves is only 75% in the first year. As far as the feeling of mourning doves concerned, it is hard to speculate whether they feel sad or not. However, we do know that when they lose their babies, they become alarmed only for a short time. After, they continue with their life since they do not have long term memories as humans do.

We have had to chase the mourning doves away from building nests in our hanging planters. The reason is because the crows come looking in there and will get the eggs. A dove built a nest on top of our patio cover that has a grape vine on it. Now we have a baby dove that is just walking around the yard and practicing flying. One of the parents are there a lot cooing at the baby. I think this little one is going to make it as it’s getting bigger and stronger to fly every day. We chase any crows away that get near the house. We’d like to use our backyard again soon, so how much longer do we have? The little bird is not afraid of us at all. This has been a fun nature experience.

This evening I was standing outside my garage talking on my cellphone. A dove flew up on the branch just above me. A few minutes later he flew down and stood about six inches from my foot. I continued talk on the phone while he stood next to me. I walked down the driveway and to my surprise, the dove followed me. I stopped and again he stopped by my foot again. After standing there for a while, I walked back up to the garage to lean on my card. The bird flew by me and landed on the roof of the car right next to me. When I was done with my call I proceeded to walk up the steps to go inside. The dove flew past me and landed on the rail next to the door. I didn’t open the door because I didn’t want him to fly in. So, I turned around, went out of the garage to walk around the back of the house. The dove few out of the garage and landed on the ground right next to me. He proceeded to follow me as I walked. So, I ran really quickly back to the garage and closed the door before he flew in. Ten minutes later, and I kid you not, I went out on the deck to change the Hummingbird feeder. Guess who showed up right next to me? The dove! He stood on the rail and watched me change and rehang the feeder. When I walked to the opposite side of the deck, he flew to the opposite side of the deck. When I sat on the steps, he sat on the steps next to me. When I sat in the chair, he sat on the ground next to my foot. After about two hours sitting on the deck, it was time for me to come in. The dove followed me to the door and sat on the railing looking into the window for 3 hours! I look out again at 8:30pm and he was gone. The dove literally kept my company for over 5 hours! Is that unusual or what? Could he have been someone’s pet?

Some friends found a baby dove in our park and brought him to me because they knew that I had raised wild babies in the past. He was about 2 weeks old. At that time, I didn’t know what he could eat. I didn’t know what kind of bird he was, or his gender. In the past I had fed new babies thinned baby food, usually beef. So, that’s what I did with Peeper. Yes, that’s what I named him because it was the first sound he made. He was so cute and liked to be cuddled/hugged in my hand.
Feeding him was a challenge. It took about a week for him to open his beak voluntarily to accept food. Before that I had to pry his beak open with a fingernail. Eventually he started pecking at little things or spots around him. I learned online that he was a dove, and they were seed eaters. Since I had 2 parakeets, I had their seed. I sprinkled some around him and he pecked at it. I kept feeding him ‘baby food’ for awhile with seed near him. He thrived. He is about a year and a half now and is very bonded to me. I have 2 cats, so I could only let him out of his little cage in a closed room. He learned to fly in my bedroom behind a closed door.
I really wanted to turn him loose so he could have a ‘real’ dove life, but I live in town and was afraid that he would be killed quickly. We have other doves in our neighborhood, but he was raised inside. His parents were not there to teach him how to survive. Several times I took him out in our backyard and encouraged him to fly, but he kept flying back to me. I gave up and bought a bigger cage.
He doesn’t like to be hugged anymore, just wants to stay close to me when I let him out. He calls me (coo coos repeatedly) if I’m out of his sight. I answer him with my version of his coo coo. Before I put him back in his cage at bedtime, I hold him and sing You Are My Sunshine to him. I do this because the first time I did it, he reacted very positively. He stopped struggling to get out of my hand and seemed very entranced. Sometimes he makes little sounds while I’m singing to him. I don’t know why but I love it.
He is a precious gift from God, and I treasure him.

P.S. about Peeper: He has been with me for over three years and he is still thriving. Still coo cooing when I’m out of his sight. And still adorable.

I have always understood that Mourning Doves will not scratch for food but will only eat what the can see.

Rescued a mourning a mourning dove at a week or so of age. Lived with us for 7 months. Caged at night. Out and about during the day. If outside, came inside. Dove would follow us around. Fly to our shoulder or head or arm. Dove would stay on one of us as we walked around the house. Every night while watching tv, the dove would fly to my GF shoulder and remain there for the entire movie. Was an amazing bird. Miss it now.

I have had the pleasure of witnessing two clutches of mourning doves on my porch the past couple of months…adults are using the same nest so far and let me help by supplying the bottom of a chicken bucket because their nesting material kept falling off the beam under my porch roof…mama dove had to lay one of her eggs before the nest was finished and I found it on the top of my four foot ladder, with a glove on I carefully placed the egg in the nest. The next mourning she was sitting on it ? I was so happy and Blessed ?‍♀️?‍♂️? They are now sprucing up the nest for the third clutch of eggs ? I love them, TY LORD JESUS!!!☝️???‍♂️?‍♂️

We have had a pair of mourning doves nesting on top of our garage door opener….we stopped putting the car in the garage so they would not be disturbed during nesting. There are 2 eggs in the nest (viewed from a ladder). We believe it is high time the eggs hatched. We have not seen Papa Dove in a few days. What’s wrong? Are the eggs “dead”? Did Papa leave Mama? She is sitting on the nest and does not move. Suggestions for help please.

Yap….I have two mourning dove but a little bit confuse…. Bcus two of it egg once broke during hatching as the cage could not be convenentt for them and now mother dove has layn again…. And this time I don’t want it to break……

I have had a pair of doves nesting in the back yard for a couple of years. They had 5 or 6 sets of twins. Just recently something is taking the eggs and the nesting bird is gone. She has been back 3 times and laid more eggs but the same is happening. I don’t see any broken shells. Just missing eggs. I live in central texas and the eggs are up high.

The mourning dove whose picture is on my website built her nest in my carport. She grew to trust me, so I could come close and take pictures. This was her good year. Her nestlings learned to fly, and she, her mate, and both baby birds flew off, healthy. The following year, she was back. She had two eggs, ready to hatch, when I saw our neighbor’s big, fat, very old cat pounce out of the bushes. He grabbed something by the neck, and then walked proudly back to his lair. I hoped his victim wasn’t her. But shortly after, her mate stood a foot away from the nest and mourned. He shouted “koo kurikoo koo koo” over and over again, as loud as he could, for eighteen hours straight. Then he flew off. One year later, he was back. Again he stood one foot away from the nest, and he shouted “koo kurikoo koo koo,” this time for four hours. Then he left and we never saw him again.

As a result, the title of a novel I am just now preparing to send out for publication is MOURNING DOVE.

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