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The Mourning Doves Coo
Begins Season Of Nesting and Feeding

The Mourning Doves Coo may sound sad, but bird watchers know it signals the beginning of this birds habits of nesting, claiming territory, and raising young.

dove nesting on security lights

It always amazes me where a bird may decide to build a nest and these birds are no exception.

As you can see, this one used an old Robin nest on top of the security lights.


Slimmer than pigeons and about 12 inches in length. Mourning Doves have a soft gray-brown body and a gray patch on the head.

Black dots on their wings and a single black spot behind and below the eyes.

A long tapered white-edged tail that is conspicuous in flight.

Feeding Habits - What Doves Eat

Common at bird feeders. Try scattering bird seed on a tray or platform feeder to aid in attracting them to your yard for a close up look. White millet and cracked corn are the most common seeds they eat. Try offering safflower seed and you'll also get Northern Cardinals eating at your feeders.

Basic Habitat

These birds prefer open land with scattering of trees and shrubs for cover and nesting. Except for wetland and dense forest, mourning doves can be found most anywhere.

They are one of the most widespread and adaptable North American birds. The best garden habitat includes open lawn, herbaceous borders, and flower beds, with scattered patches of trees and shrubs. Include a source of water close to the ground (in winter, see: heated bird baths) in addition to providing bird seed and you should be able to attract these birds all year.

Nesting Habits

Beginning as early as March, these birds begin nest building. A loose nest of twigs, grass, weeds and pine needles. I stress loose because their nest can be so lightly put together that often you can see through it from the bottom. Many folks wonder if they should help the birds out. For the most part I suggest leaving it alone, but I'm not there looking at it like you are.

If startled they may fly off the nest too quickly and the eggs could fall from the nest. Birdwatchers would be wise to wait until the eggs have hatched before approaching any nest.

Video - Dove Feeding On Platform Feeder
Nest abandonment is very common with these birds. If they feel any threat from predators whether human or animal, they may go elsewhere to nest, abandoning both eggs and nestlings. Bird watchers need to exercise caution.

The nest can be found 5-25 feet above the ground, often in the crotch of a shrub or tree. Laying 2 white eggs that are incubated for 14-15 days. The young will leave the nest in 12-14 days.

They have been known to reuse the same nest for five sets of eggs in a single season. Usually 2 - 3 broods raised each season. The peak of the breeding season is April - July although they may breed as late as October in some areas.

You can try attracting them to nest near you by placing a Nesting Shelf attached to a tree or your house. Another trick I've tried was to use a hanging plant container. I fill with soil and top it off with some White Pine needles. White Pines have very soft needles unlike many other pines. I place the hanging container under a porch or the roof of my garden gate. If placing on your deck or porch, make sure you hang it close to the outside of the deck or porch.

Mourning Dove
with Baby Squabs

Mourning Doves

These birds, along with Pigeons, produce a food called pigeon milk (not really milk) by glands in the crop of the adult bird. The parent opens its mouth wide, permitting the nestling to stick its head inside to feed on the nutritious food.

In the wild, the adult birds feed primarily on field waste grain. These include corn, wheat, grass, and weed seeds.

You can attract these birds to your feeder by supplying white and red proso millet, oil-type sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.

Important Nesting Information

Often emails from bird watchers arrive asking "Our dove has not left the nest in days, will she starve or die of thirst? What should we do?"

Unlike most birds, these birds tend to incubate their eggs continually. Since the male and female look alike, it appears the same bird is incubating the eggs the whole time.

Actually, the male does a daytime shift and the female does the night shift. If you are not around during the change, it appears the same bird has been on the nest the whole time.

Not to worry, the switch was made while you were not looking.

One More Thing
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People often worry about when one of the birds die. These birds are perfect prey for cats because they feed mostly on the ground. Sometimes the surviving bird will attempt to incubate the eggs, or continue feeding the nestlings.

This is a difficult task for a single bird and often unsuccessful.

In due course, the surviving mate will find a new mate. Since they nest several times a season it's possible they will raise a successful brood in the same season. While it's sad to lose these birds in your yard, be comforted knowing they will mate again.


The average lifespan of first year birds is 1 - 1.5 years. First year birds have a mortality rate of 60 - 75 percent and adults have a mortality rate of 50 - 60 percent. For any songbird the first year of survival is the most difficult. If these birds survive their first year they can live on average 4 - 5 years.

Predators include: hawks, snakes, squirrels, cats and hunters.

Moving Dove Nest

I get many emails complaining that doves have nested too close to the door or where dogs are contained. They ask "can I move the doves nest?" I'm sorry to say that when nest are moved, most times it interpreted as a predator attack and the nest is then abandoned. All I can suggest is to do your best. Use the door if you have to and keep dogs monitored at fledging time.

There are times nest must be removed. This happens when nest are located on movable objects such as automobiles or tractors that have sat for a period of time. It's then that I would recommend trying to move the nest but keeping it as close as possible to where the nest was found.

Don't walk the nest 20 feet away and place it in a tree. Use common sense. It may not work out, but you've done what you can. I am aware of others who have had success. --- That's my 2 cents on this matter. Please don't write and tell me about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I'm aware of what it says and am confident in it's intent. Thank you.

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Enjoy The Video

Close up Video of a Mourning Dove perched on a fence

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Dove Short Stories 
We live on the 19th floor birds never fly in. One day my roommate and I were talking and I see this BEAUTIFUL white dove. Amazed we just watched him …

He Landed On My Head 
I don't Know if you got my previous story about my new friend. I was filling my feeders one day back in late August. There was a slight drizzle and …

Doves Nest In Strange Places 
Hi from NYC, I have two wonderful little mourning doves making a nest under my AC window unit! I have been watching them for the past two days build …

Hank the -Indoor/Outdoor Mourning Dove 
We have acquired a mourning dove, and I must say, he is a breath of fresh air for us! 'Hank' was found outside back in August (2012) on the ground …

Short Stories and Pictures of Doves 
This past February I discovered that we had mourning doves in our backyard, which has some natural forest and lots of trees. Over the years I have often …

Doves Nesting In Unusual Locations 
When the weather warmed up, I noticed small branches at the entrance to my front door. Thinking the wind had blown them there, I would sweep them up and …

I have Doves in a hanging planter too! 
I did have a Robin nesting there around late March or early April, but it flew away every time we opened the front door (the plant hanger is to the left …

Doves nesting on patio - Worried about Crows 
A few years ago, we had a family of doves and had so much fun watching the progression from building the nest to weening the babies. Our kids were still …

My doves in hanging fake plant! 
We have had doves living around the house for several years. The first year she built a nest on top of a window air conditioner... a strange but very unique …

Doves Nest in Plant Container 
We live in a fully attached brick house in the southern part of Brooklyn. We are a block away from a salt creek and a few minutes from Jamaica Bay. We …

My little Squirt 
Isn't it funny how life goes, just when you think things in your life are just hum drum, and you take your life for granted. And especially the spirit …

It's Just A Rotten Egg! 
On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, my grand daughter, Annastasia, found an egg in the grass in her neighborhood. The next morning her mother dropped her …

Ricardo the wounded dove 
One morning I went out to refill my Goldfinch feeders. I glanced down and realized that I almost stepped on a scrawny, tan bird. I …

Balcony Doves  
Mourning Birds Feel At Home Mama and Daddy Dark Eyes moved into a planter hanging over my balcony. I went to water my plants one evening and a bird …

Doves Nesting on House 
We kept hearing cooing at our front door May 2011 and then discovered a dove was nesting up in our eves of our roof (first photo). It is actually an …

Baby Mourning Doves 
Greetings. We are proud to say we have fledged many, many chicks from our yard over the years, which of course means we have also seen many nests raided …

Baby Birds Born In Hanging Pot Plant  
A few weeks ago while cleaning up my back patio and watering some plants, I came across a mourning dove's nest that had appeared inside one of my hanging …

Doves Mean New Life 
The two babies are growing so fast! I found a nice blue bird bath for my front planter area and decided to put a small running water bamboo feature …

Dove Nest on Patio 
I recently have had the pleasure (and pain) of having a beautiful pair of mourning doves nesting on the roof overhang of my patio. When I first noticed …

Dove on Fire Escape 
We are city dwellers. . . N.Y.C. that is. That means, we must go to the nearest park to find nature. But something wonderful has happened. Nature came …

Getting Doves To Use Hanging Basket 
This is the second installment on my Morning Doves along with a picture of the chicks. Late this afternoon I was looking out of the window and noticed …

Wild Mourning Dove Turned Pet 
In May of this year (2009), I was sitting in my garage with the door open and in flies a Mourning Dove. I sat on the top step to watch it for awhile. …

At Home In the Pines 
The giant pine trees in our front yard have been a haven for many of nature's creatures over the years, and August, 2009 was no exception. I retired several …

Baby Mourning Dove  
I went for a walk and came across a baby Mourning Dove. He was too young to be out of the nest and had a cut on his/her (not sure) leg. He was peeping …

Click here to write your own.

Doves Abandoned Nest  
Well my story begins in late May, early June 2009…I was doing some gardening near my patio. I decided to take a break & sat down and noticed some twigs …

Mourning Dove Nest Abandonment 
We have a lovely mourning dove who has set up her home in our back yard. She and her mate are beautiful creatures that seem curious about us, rather than …

Doves on Garage Door Pictures 
I have added a picture to go along with my previously posted story... One day we were in our garage (California carport-door on one side/open on other), …

Doves in Hanging basket 
A pair of mourning doves filled the hanging basket outside our kitchen window. It was a delightful surprise to see them sitting there only a few …

My First Mourning Dove Nest 
I discovered it just yesterday. I hung a new petunia and then had to go out of town for 2 days. When I came back, I went to water it and a dove flew …

Doves On My Deck - Again! 
LAST YEAR!! While sipping my Sunday morning coffee, I turned to look out of the kitchen window to notice a Mourning Dove sitting in one of my flower boxes …

Doves in Wreath on Front Door 
When I first saw the morning doves building a nest in the wreath on my front door, I thought of pulling the twigs out & removing the wreath till they found …

Doves Nesting On Moms Porch 
Visiting my mother recently I saw a mourning dove nesting on top of a pillar under the porch roof. Not unusual, though last year they selected her neighbors, …

Doves nesting in Patio Planter 
One morning last week I was sitting out on my back patio enjoying the spring day when I noticed a dove 20 ft out at the edge of the patio, pacing back …

Baby doves 
I first noticed the dove nesting in my hanging flower pot just outside the window in late February. As much as I love sitting in my patio swing, I tried …

Mommas Babies 
I was watering my plants one evening and was startled by a big plump dove snugly tucked in my hanging flowerpot. To an even bigger amazement of mine, …

Mourning Doves On My Porch 
For the last two years my family and I have had a family of mourning doves nesting in a hanging plant on my front porch. My husband, kids and I enjoy …

Doves In Patio Covering 
I love this site! Thank you. I am a huge bird-lover (cat and dog lover, too). Have 2 humming bird hangers in our small'ish Irvine, CA backyard. I …

Morning Doves Nesting In My Hanging Plants. 
I found doves nesting at my house. I came across them when watering my hanging plants that hang well above the ground but just off of my front entrance …

Places Doves Choose to Nest 
Well I was surprised to see morning doves making a nest in a potted plant on my BBQ this afternoon. I watched the making of the nest for 20 min by two …

Doves & Panasonic Air Conditioner 
Mrs. Panasonic was the name we gave the mourning dove, for obvious reasons, that has been nesting above our air conditioner for the last four years. …

Broken Nest Rebuilt 
We recently found a mourning dove nest shattered on the ground inside our patio. It was obvious that the nest had fallen from a precarious position on …

Dove nesting in a small shrub Not rated yet
Hello Everyone! It's been awhile since I wrote a story of some doves! I moved back to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I grew up, to help my father who is 93 …

Dove Nest in Shoe Stand Not rated yet
I live in India (Surat city - Gujarat), I am a zoologist and I always go into the field for behavioral study of animals and birds. Once I observed …

Doves in Hanging Plant Not rated yet
I'm not much of a writer, but I do want you to see the picture of my dove and her baby. I found her when I poured a cup of water in my plant. We scared …

Doves Nesting on Carport  Not rated yet
A few months ago, I hired a local pest control company to screen in the corner eaves of my house because honestly, birds were becoming a nuisance. (I …

Doves Nesting On Patios and Decks Not rated yet
Since the first picture of my "Anticipated Guest," another egg was laid. I've been following the doves' story every day. Momma and Papa continue …

Dove Stories From New Birders Not rated yet
Several weeks ago, my family and I were in our backyard grilling some hamburgers, when a bird suddenly flew out from under the porch. We had no idea …

Doves Nesting in Hanging Plants Not rated yet
Last month I had a Morning Dove decide to nest in my hanging petunia on my back deck. I didn’t want her there restricting my deck usage, so I removed …

Doves Nesting in Tree Not rated yet
For the past few months, Mourning Doves have been cooing away, and fluttering around, and I being an animal lover, would respond in kind, by imitating …

Click here to write your own.

Doves Nesting in Hanging Gardening Containers and Planters Not rated yet
Last year during nesting season we noticed a pair of doves frequenting our front porch planter. When they repeatedly landed there and started bringing …

Finding and Helping Mourning Doves Not rated yet
We had a storm that took out many trees in town. We were removing what was left of one of ours that was broken and hanging. While cutting the limb …

Dove Nest In Joshua Tree Not rated yet
It has been several weeks now since the Doves have returned to the nest. I can watch the nest from my kitchen window and last week I noticed the twigs …

Penny and Benny Dove Not rated yet
I submitted our story about our first nesting doves in 2008 -- Penny and Benny. Well, we are now on our third mourning dove family. The new parents …

Click here to write your own.

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