Doves Abandoned Nest

by Caroline
(Los Angeles, CA)

Babies In Nest

Babies In 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 on the ground – I thought the wind had blown them onto the patio so I didn’t think much more of it.

The next day I went out & happened to look up a few inches & saw many, many twigs piled up on top of the light fixture.

I’m nearly 6 feet tall so this fixture was just slightly higher than eye level. I was amazed that a bird would try to build a nest in such an awkward place (it’s a double security sensor light so it’s got a “V” shape in the center) but I’ve always felt that birds nests were good luck so I was pleased they chose our light fixture.

The next day I came out & found a Mourning Dove perched on top of that nest & to my amazement she/he just looked at me & barely moved.

I tried to limit my time out on the patio at first so as not to scare them but I couldn’t totally stay off the patio as it is the only way to our backyard.

I did a great deal of research and found that the males and females take turns sitting on the eggs, etc. so I became very aware of their schedule & was lucky enough to see them switching shifts in the a.m. & p.m.

Although I never saw the eggs I knew from my research that in about 2 weeks time we’d have some little baby doves.

Sure enough about 2 weeks later we were so excited to see some activity…most of the time the parents were actually sitting on the young but within days we could see the 2 tiny babies feeding from the parents beaks.

It was AMAZING to say the least & such a privilege to be so close to them. I’ve attached a photo of the babies when they were a bit over a week old.

About 2 weeks after they were born they grew so big that we knew it was going to be time that they’d leave the nest pretty soon.

It seemed they went from a decent size to huge overnight (they seemed almost as big as their parents!). At a certain point the parents would sit on the light fixture because the 2 young ones were overflowing from the nest.

Sure enough one fine Sunday (June 28th to be exact) they flew the coop. They stayed close enough that I was able to eventually spot them…about 30 feet across the yard under our lemon tree.

They were so cute as they tried to fly! The Mom & Dad were sitting on the wall very close by & kept watch over them.

The one baby got the hang of flying much quicker than the other so Mom, Dad & baby #1 sat together while baby #2 worked out his coordination under the lemon tree.

The next day they were nowhere to be seen & I hoped they were enjoying their new found gift of flight!

Not 2 days after they left the nest my husband said, “Hey hon, guess who’s back?” I couldn’t believe it but there was the Mom (or Dad…I never could tell them apart) sitting on the nest!

The next day the nest was empty (must have caught them between shifts) so I carefully peeked in & saw one egg!

I was so happy but worried when about an hour went by before Mom/Dad came back. I researched and saw that they knew how long an egg can stay unattended so I was not concerned when that happened several other times during the week.



I also read that they don’t always lay their eggs at the same time. Sure enough on another occasion where they were gone for a while, I peeked in again and saw that there were now 2 eggs.

Fast forward to this weekend…I knew since we were over the 2 week mark that the babies would be arriving soon.

We went about our usual business…saying hello to the Mom & Dad every day (we would have lunch or dinner on the patio & I garden in the evening several times a week so they were quite used to us & we loved them being there).

On Saturday evening I was doing some gardening & one of them was on the nest. I came back from the other side of the yard & the nest was empty.

No big deal I thought but I found it strange being that we were at the 19 day mark…I peeked in as I was worried that maybe the babies had been born by now but there were still 2 small eggs in the nest.

I saw the Mom or Dad up on the neighbors roof & so I stayed on the other side of the yard so she/he would go back to the nest.

An hour later she/he was still on the roof. I thought perhaps I should wrap up my gardening so I put my things away & went in the house. Peeked out the window every now & then…2, 3, 4 hours went by & no Mom or Dad.

Needless to say I was incredibly sad. Tried to let it go but the first thing I did when I got up Sunday morning was check outside & still no Mom or Dad.

I know there must be a reason for them to abandon the nest but I’m incredibly sad about it & rather confused as to why they would leave 2 eggs. If one of the parents was killed (there is a neighborhood cat that I’ve shooed out of the yard once in a while) would the other parent just abandon the nest?

After 19 days of sitting on the nest is it possible that the eggs were not viable? Would they not have known that sooner?

Don’t mean to sound ignorant…my hubby & I just got really attached to these 2 and their first set of little babies.

We even named the parents Hansel & Gretel (I know – we’re silly). My only other experience with birds was last Spring when a Sparrow built her nest in a very high, precarious corbel out front of our house.

The results were disastrous as we went out several times in one week to find a dead baby sparrow that had fallen (or been pushed?) from this 20 ft. high perch.

We buried 3 that were dead by the time we got out there & thought we saved the 4th but he later perished as well. (Named him Jack Sparrow…I know – I probably shouldn’t name the birds – I get so attached even when they don’t have names).

Guess I’m just wondering if anyone could clue me in to our Mourning Dove situation & let me know why they would have left these 2 eggs after 19 days?

Also, what should I do in the days ahead with those eggs? It seems so disrespectful to remove them…any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for this great site/forum – I’ve learned a great deal!

Best Regards,
Caroline

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Jul 26, 2014
Abandoned Nest with one egg
by: Anonymous

I am fostering A egg Should I put it with another nest?

Jul 06, 2014
4 dove eggs nested but no birds ?
by: Anonymous

we have 4 eggs nested by doves that come ever year but we noticed there are no birds nesting on them for over a day now? can anyone tell me what happened?

Jun 24, 2014
Abandonment
by: Anonymous

From early on there seemed to be a rivalry between what I assume were two male doves. Nevertheless, two eggs were laid in a hanging basket on my detached garage that had been a successful nesting site last summer.

I only saw the mother relieved two times, but it might have been happening all along and I didn't see.

One evening I was on my back porch and three birds showed up. I realized there was none on the nest. They flew away!

Three days later to my amazement a dove was sitting on the nest again. Next morning, gone was the dove, and the eggs had been pecked into. Very disappointing.

I wonder if the mother was simply abandoned first. Would she have pecked the eggs which may well have succumbed to cool nights alone in the nest?

Jun 05, 2014
baby doves
by: turtledove

I ran across this website looking for information on morning doves and their process of caring for their young. I have two baby morning doves that hatched in my flower pot.

I have enjoyed seeing the mama and papa dove care for their young...but now it's been about two weeks and the parents seem to stay away longer and longer.

I'm wondering when is it that the little baby doves are expected to take their first flight. I get so worried when I don't see one of the parents at the nest sight.

It is taking more time out of my day than I thought I would ever spend watching these adorable birds.

I wish I knew what to expect in the weeks to come.

May 28, 2014
Watch that third egg!
by: Darlene

I had nesting doves and would discover the magical appearance of a third egg in the nest. Then I learned from a friend that Doves normally only lay 2 eggs at a time, and the 3rd one is probably from a Cowbird. Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds' nest and leave the raising of the chicks to the "foster" parents. Cow Birds grow faster than Doves and the youngster may even eat the Dove babies, so beware....

From: Wild-Bird-Watching

A couple of points need to be made here. First, it's rare for Cowbirds to lay in Dove nest since Doves are rarely off the nest. It does happen though.

Cowbird nestlings probably wouldn't survive since the crop milk fed the first few days may not keep the Cowbird hatchling alive.

Cowbird nestlings don't eat the young of the host bird. The host nestlings die due to lack of food as the Cowbird gets more and grows at a faster rate. This usually happens when the host is a smaller species than the Cowbird.

May 28, 2014
Unhatched Eggs
by: Anonymous

This is the second year to have mourning doves nest in an artificial hanging plant near my back door. The first year there were two eggs and two babies. This year they have nested twice.

The first time again there were two eggs and two babies. This time there were two eggs initially-- I have a picture of the nest when the doves were gone. Later only one egg hatched.

Then I discovered a third egg about a week later! I was so surprised! There is still only one baby, and it has gotten so big that I'm sure it will be gone soon.

I'm wondering how long the doves will stay on the other two eggs. I do not think they are viable. The mama dove is so calm she lets me pet her.

Daddy does not like me and is very protective of the nest. I have taken numerous pictures and shared them on Facebook with my friends. I am wondering if I should dispose of the other two eggs. Any suggestions?

This has been a wonderful experience. I would post some pictures if I knew how to do it on this website.

May 24, 2014
Eggs gone
by: Anonymous

Same story, different basket. This is the fourth year doves have come back and laid eggs in my hanging basket. They've been pretty successful each year. Not this time though. 2 days ago, I saw a huge crow squawking and looking down on the dove in the basket.

I yelled at him and he flew away. Everything was ok this morning when I checked on the doves. I checked again and the dove was gone and the eggs were gone. All that is left is the nest. I hate crows! I'm so sad for the parents and my family.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Apr 29, 2014
Hope Stays Alive
by: Yvonne- Oklahoma

This website has become my favorite!! Each time I
log on, I get to enjoy the comments other dove
lovers have posted and it warms my heart.

So far, still, my Momma Dove, Patience, has not returned to the nest from last spring. I am not giving up hope, though, and won't plant any flowers in that hanging planter.

Is there a particular month in which I should realize that my doves will not be returning there? Comments from others would be appreciated.

Apr 29, 2014
Where did the eggs go?
by: Darlene

I'm sure a predator had the eggs for a meal. It's sad, but that's nature. Survival of the fittest.
Last year I had doves give birth to 3 broods. Only one brood survived. The second ---the sweet hatchlings--were eaten by crows.

I know this because there were a few dove feathers and one huge crow feather on my patio below the hanging basket where the nest was located (must have been some fight there).

The third attempt--the eggs disappeared with only one chip of an eggshell remaining.

The dove that always chooses my hanging basket for a nest (for the past 3 years), came by again this year.

Took a good look and decided to nest elsewhere.

Can't blame him; obviously the crows have gotten to know his nesting preferences! I even purchased a fake dead crow to hang near the nest (sporadically of course, since crows are very, very smart), but alas, I have no nest to protect this year.

Apr 28, 2014
where'd the eggs go???
by: Anonymous

After watching her sit for two weeks on her two eggs, my husband checked her one afternoon and she was still sitting. An hour later he went back to check again and the dove AND THE EGGS WERE GONE!!! What happened?

Apr 13, 2014
Update from Oklahoma
by: Yvonne-

How delightful it this been to read the stories of others who are so interested in mourning doves!

Last year I wrote about Patience, my Momma dove, and her babies, Fuzzy and Wuzzy. She had built her nest in a hanging flower basket right outside my kitchen window.

She and the Papa made my summer so exciting and I left the hanging basket just as it was last year....but, so far, I have had no return of the doves.

I can hear them cooing in the trees around my house but they have not chosen to return.

Perhaps it is still a little too cool for nesting...I am hoping that is the case. I am still
hopeful that I shall be able to enjoy these beautiful birds and their precious babies.

I felt blessed when they were here.

Apr 13, 2014
One mourning dove mate missing?
by: Erin

I know it's been years since the last post here, but I have a mourning dove nest outside my apartment door on top of a fire extinguisher box.

I'm worried that something happened to one of the pair of birds. There is one that is there every morning and sits there all day on the nest, but yesterday evening and night, there was no sign of anyone sitting on the nest.

While it's warm here during the day (California), it got down to about 54 degrees last night. I'm worried the eggs may have died, especially if the other mate doesn't come back tonight.

Is there anything I could do help keep the eggs warm? There is also a light above the nest that is on all night, would that be a problem?

Jul 28, 2013
Abandoned Nests
by: Anonymous

Well, I too have researched and researched this mystery of Doves abandoning their eggs. Today, it happened as I watched from my window. The Doves have their nest in my hanging Gernanium. I have two planters hanging parallel to each other.

The male was sitting on the nest and the female came by (I assumed to take her turn on the nest, although it was only 2 pm and they usually switch around 7 pm). The female perched herself on the second Geranium planter while the male was pruning himself while in the nest.

I've noticed that the Dove "sitting" on the nest will make the coo-coo-coo sound prior to the approach of the mate (are they calling to each other, saying it's time for my break?). This cooing always gets my attention so I am able to see the "changing of the guard."

Suddenly the male flew out of the nest and landed on a nearby rooftop. The female then joined him and they flew away together. They've been gone for hours now so I am assuming they won't be back since they have never left the eggs alone before.

I have learned that Mourning Doves will abandon a nest if the mite/insect population becomes too intense, and the fact that there was much pruning going on makes me suspicious of this fact.

Once I confirm that indeed the nest has been abandoned, I will spray the planter with 5% Sevin as recommended. Hopefully, they will come back.

Their last nesting---3 weeks ago, ended in tragedy. I found one black Crow feather and many Dove feathers on my patio floor. The planter and nest inside was undisturbed; however, the eggs were completely gone---not even a piece of shell remained.

Last year during one of their nestings (if they're the same Doves) they abandoned one of their nests, and once I realized they weren't coming back, I removed the eggs, then suddenly the Doves appeared and looked at me as if to say, "Well, it's about time you got rid of that."

The next day there was a brand new nest with 2 more eggs which eventually hatched and flew away.

It is truly fun watching Mourning Doves, but then it is heartbreaking, too.

Jun 10, 2013
Patience, The Mourning Dove
by: Yvonne

I just searched the internet to get the question of what to do about an abandoned dove egg also. This spring I had a Momma Dove make her nest in a hanging flower pot right outside my kitchen window.

I named her "Patience" as she would sit, hour after hour, calmly covering her precious two little eggs. I would, also, walk out on the deck and it never seemed to disturb her.

One night we had a wind/rain storm and I was worried about her; by this time there were two little fluffy babies in the nest (I named Fuzzy and Wuzzy)when I looked out my window I saw that both the Momma and Papa doves were sitting in the nest to protect their brood.

Finally the babies must have flown as the nest was abandoned; then a few days later she was back, to my delight. She laid one egg and then I have not seen her since (over a week now) so I, too, am worried about that abandoned dove egg!

I hope nothing has happened to her and that she, indeed does return as she has brought me so much pleasure.

May 22, 2013
My Mourning Dove story
by: Anonymous

I am relieved to read that others have been confused by the mourning dove habits of simply deserting their eggs. Our mourning dove nest had two lovely white eggs and the parent(s) were around a lot.

Then suddenly they just stopped returning to the nest - though we had made certain that the area was quiet and undisturbed by our front door (we had a big sign up asking friends to come to the side door).

Anyway -- this morning the nest was on the ground and the two eggs were just lying there - cracked and gray.

I knew that the babies were no longer viable, so I peeked into one of the eggs -- and started to cry seeing the tiny feet so nicely formed and yet so completely dead.

Really a heart-cracking sight. I do hope we have a more successful dove birthing around our home in the future.

For now, feeling heart broken over these babies and perplexed about their abandonment.

Jul 12, 2010
my doves
by: Audrey

Whilst watering my front garden Darling flew out of the tree, the tree is not very large, when I looked I notice the nest, she has been sitting on the nest for nearly 2 weeks, and yesterday we had a lot of rain, I was so frightened that Darling might have left the nest.

But looking this morning she is still there. I also have a cat, and making sure that she does not go in the front garden. I think this a beautiful.

Do you know once we had a family of Jenny Wrens nesting in one of my hanging baskets. I am 74 years of age, and can not get over the wonder of nature.

Jun 07, 2010
Why my nest is abandoned
by: Anonymous

In the past several springs, doves have made their nest in the same flower pot on my baker's rack outdoors. There must have been 3 new families born each spring.

This year the mom and dad doves were taking turns sitting on their eggs on two different occasions now. And both times, no babies were born, and no sign of any eggs in the nest after the mom and dad abandoned it.

Well, for a third time, a mom and dad came to lay their eggs in the flower pot nest. And this morning I woke up to the sound of crows cawing. I went into my yard and there were about 8 crows looking and sounding pretty cocky.

A dove wasn't sitting on the flower pot nest. I waited a while, but no mom or dad returned. I looked in the nest and found one egg (pretty large for those little birds!). The egg was intact.

I imagine the parents were scared off by the crows and won't be coming back. They probably figure their baby(ies) aren't there anymore, or it is too dangerous a place to nurture their babies, so why bother.

I put one of those plastic milk bottles full of water out on a table by the nest. I remembered my gardener told me that kept the cats away, I thought I'd see if it keeps the crows away.

If no mom or dad comes back, I'll move the pot so future doves don't think it's an attractive place for a nest.

Seeing those crows explains why I hadn't seen any sign of eggs or babies after the mom and dad flew away from the nest.

All these years I've really enjoyed watching nature take place outside my door in the spring, but it's sad to know the parents worked so hard to prepare the nest and nurture their babies, and all along the crow gang is waiting to pounce.

Aug 28, 2009
Rosebud update
by: Anonymous

I did not want to give up any glimmer of hope that Rosebud would return, however it has now been well over 24 hours so I suppose the nest is truly abandoned. I got on a step stool so I could see the two white eggs....that was sad. I will wait a couple of days, but I am wondering if I should remove the whole nest or just the eggs. Does anyone have advice? Thanks.

Aug 27, 2009
Egg still there
by: Phyllis

There is still an egg on the fire escape since the beginning of the summer. The parents left it and it is still there.

Oddly enough, I still hear mourning doves occasionally from my window, but when I look out, I don't see any.

Today I looked out the window when I saw a flurry of a bird and did see a mourning dove on the roof, but I haven't seen any by the flower pot where the abandoned egg is.

The apartment that is there is now vacant too. I have seen workmen in the apartment. Maybe when new tenants move in, the mourning doves will return and start another nest. At least I'm hoping.

Aug 27, 2009
Rosebud
by: Anonymous

I can very much relate to Caroline. My story is much the same. I don't know much about doves, other than I love to see them and enjoy their soothing, cooing voices.

Last month, we had a pair build a nest in an ornamental tree just outside of our front door. We have a small courtyard garden where our cat, Boo, has restricted, yet supervised, access to the great outdoors.

Despite all of this the birds chose to build their home in our yard. When Boo got too close, they somehow trusted us to keep her away. We really enjoyed watching them each day.

I could see the nesting bird from the kitchen window, and every morning I would take a peek. Later, when walking by outside, I would softly coo, and mother/father? bird seemed to understand I meant no harm.

I too had no idea that there was a female/male rotation at the nest. When the two babies hatched it was exciting to watch them develop. One day they just disappeared.

We did not see them get flying lessons. I'm sure they made sure that Boo was no where in the yard. We grew quite attached to them after all that time and were shocked to find that they returned about two weeks later to the old nest!

It was at this time I decided the mother should have a name. I called her Rosebud because her chest has a rose blush to it. Who knows, maybe Rosebud was the male!

All I know for sure is that we have 2 eggs in the nest right now, with no parent around. It is around 1:30PM and 96 degrees out!

Yesterday afternoon I noticed the nest was unattended but wasn't concerned until morning. I have seen the nest vacant for short periods of time, but never this long.

I am still hoping for a miracle that they will return to the nest.

Jul 29, 2009
Beware of nest on light fixtures
by: Anonymous

Just to let you know. If you have a nest at a light around your house. You may want to kill the power. Some homes have burned to the ground because of this.

Jul 26, 2009
Reply to Anonymous
by: Caroline

Hi there to the poster with the nest on top of the garage door! I feel for you...my nest is on a light outside of our patio so it did not hinder getting in or out of the house/garage. It's been over a week now & in my case since it's not hindered our comings or goings, I have chosen to leave the nest & eggs where they are.

The Mom & Dad hung out in the vicinity that last night before they abandoned the nest. It seemed to me that they were conferring about the situation and perhaps "discussing" the fact that the eggs were not viable. (I may have an overactive imagination but honestly it seemed that way...for them to hover nearby seemed to me that the decision was not made lightly by them).

To their credit they spent 19 days on that particular set of eggs & I really think they did an amazing job. I'm so grateful I got to see them successfully hatch the first brood & see the go from helpless babies, to large fluffy "toddlers" & then finally see them fly the coop...they are amazing creatures & I felt very blessed to witness such beauty up close & personal.

There has been zero activity near the nest since 8 days ago, so today I actually stood on a chair to look more closely inside & I even touched the 2 little eggs. They are so pretty. I will leave them there indefinitely as I can not bear to throw them away :( Good luck with whatever decision you make on your garage nest...if it has been abandoned (which after the amount of time you noted, it seems likely) then I would certainly understand your need to move it.

Best Wishes,
Caroline

Jul 22, 2009
Similar Situation...
by: Anonymous

Hello-
I was thrilled to find your story today, as I was researching my abandoned nest situation. It seems common for Doves to abandon nests, and they, unlike most birds, are supposed to incubate eggs continually.
"My" doves decided to nest on top of the garage door opener-just a few days ago, making use of the garage difficult. Looking in the nest, there is one egg that was constantly incubated until today. I am not aware of any "traumatic" event that may have scared the parents, or predators in my garage- they haven't been seen all day.
Although they seem to have left the nest (no bird near for 8 hours), they are still around my home and I am unsure of when/what to do with the eggs? Any help would be appreciated!

Jul 22, 2009
Parents / Family
by: Phyllis

I think the same parents can have 3 or 4 families, so it's possible it is the same parents. Mourning doves live about one to one and a half years on average, I believe.

Jul 22, 2009
Thank You!
by: Caroline

Thanks Phyllis! I appreciate your kind thoughts...it's very dismaying to see those 2 little eggs in the nest every time I got outside. One of those mysteries of nature I suppose.

Thanks also to Cynthia...I had never entertained the idea that it could have been different parents than the last set. It would seem odd since it's an out of the way place & they laid 2 new eggs just 2 days after the first brood flew off. It's hard to tell doves apart so I couldn't say for sure.

I will leave the eggs in the nest for the time being. Would love for the Mom & Dad to come back and have more babies in that nest but with those 2 eggs sitting there it doesn't seem likely that that will happen.

Glad I'm not the only one who names the birds :)

Appreciate the kind thoughts & comments!
Best Wishes,
Caroline

Jul 21, 2009
mourning doves
by: Cynthia

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I don't think you are at all silly for naming 'your' birds. I know how you get attached, as I'm watching a wren nest in my birdfeeder which should begin hatching in a few days. The internet is wonderful for helping us find out information about our backyard birds! I'm afraid I don't have any idea what to tell you about the abandoned eggs.

Is it possible that the 2nd nesting was a different pair of doves? That doesn't explain the abandoned eggs, but I just wondered if you had considered that possibility.

I hear my little wren singing, so I may go out and see if I can get a picture of the 6 eggs. I try not to disturb her too often.

I think I'd just leave the eggs and let nature take its course, with whatever happens.


Jul 21, 2009
Lovely story.
by: Phyllis

I loved your story, especially since there is still an egg that is in a nest across the shaft way on a 6th floor fire escape. The parents finally left after it was clear that there would be no baby dove hatching from the egg. We had a feeling that this one was different. The parents weren't as attentive, it seemed, as the last parents. I also wonder about unhatched eggs.

There have been several others that were successful (posted here--see Benny and Penny). I always name them too--love Hansel and Gretel. Great photo!

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