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 EatCommon 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.
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 HabitsBeginning 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.
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.
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 InformationOften 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
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.
LifespanThe 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 NestI 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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By Gene Planker