Amazing Mourning Dove Facts You Never Knew

These gentle and graceful birds have captured the hearts of many backyard birdwatchers, including myself.

Join me as we uncover a few of the more interesting mourning dove facts that will leave you amazed and appreciating these remarkable creatures even more.

Fact 1: The Unique Sound of Mourning Doves

One of the most distinctive features of mourning doves is their soft, mournful cooing sound.

This soothing call is what gives them their name, as it resembles the sound of someone mourning. The male mourning dove uses this call to attract a mate.

Mourning doves have a unique way of producing their cooing sound. They inflate their throat, creating a resonating chamber that amplifies the sound.

This allows their call to carry over long distances, making it easier for them to communicate with other doves.

Not only is their call beautiful, but it's also quite versatile. Mourning doves can produce a variety of different coos, each with its own meaning.

From the gentle cooing used to attract a mate to the more urgent calls used to warn of danger, these birds have a rich vocal repertoire.

Fact 2: Mourning Doves Are Fast Flyers

Mourning doves may look delicate, but they're actually quite powerful flyers. In fact, they can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour!

This makes them one of the fastest birds in North America, and it's always a thrill to see them zooming through the air.

Their speed is due in part to their streamlined body shape and strong wing muscles. Mourning doves have long, pointed wings that allow them to cut through the air with minimal resistance.

This, combined with their powerful muscles, enables them to achieve impressive speeds.

Not only are they fast, but mourning doves are also incredibly agile. They can change direction quickly and effortlessly, making them difficult for predators to catch.

This agility also comes in handy when they're navigating through dense foliage or avoiding obstacles in their environment.

Fact 3: Mourning Doves Form Seasonal Pair Bonds

Mourning doves are known for their strong pair bonds, but unlike some bird species, they do not mate for life.

Instead, they form seasonal pair bonds, which means they may re-pair with the same or a different mate each breeding season.

During the breeding season, the male mourning dove will court the female by puffing out his chest, bobbing his head, and cooing softly.

If the female is receptive, she'll respond with her own cooing sounds, and the pair will mate.

Once they've formed a bond, the male and female will work together to build a nest, incubate their eggs, and care for their chicks.

This cooperative behavior is one of the reasons why mourning doves are such successful breeders.

Fact 4: Mourning Doves Have a Varied Diet

Mourning doves are primarily granivorous, which means that they eat seeds and grains. In fact, seeds make up about 99% of their diet!

close up mourning dove facts

They'll eat a wide variety of seeds, including those from grasses, weeds, and cultivated crops.

To help them digest their food, mourning doves will swallow small stones and grit.

These materials help to grind up the seeds in their gizzard, making it easier for them to extract the nutrients.

So, if you want to attract mourning doves to your backyard, be sure to provide them with a mix of seeds and a source of grit.

Fact 5: Mourning Doves Have a Wide Distribution

Mourning doves can be found throughout North America, from southern Canada to Central America.

They inhabit a variety of environments, including grasslands, forests, and urban areas.

Their adaptability and tolerance for different habitats make them one of the most widespread bird species in North America.

Fact 6: Mourning Doves Are Prolific Breeders

Mourning doves can raise multiple broods in a single breeding season, which typically runs from March to September.

dove with 2 fledglings

They lay 1-2 eggs per clutch, and the eggs hatch after about 14 days of incubation.

The chicks, called squabs, fledge in just 12-15 days, allowing the parents to start another brood quickly.

Fact 7: Mourning Doves Have a Unique Flight Pattern

When mourning doves take off, their wings produce a distinctive whistling sound. This is due to the unique arrangement of their primary feathers.

Additionally, their flight pattern is characterized by rapid wing beats followed by short glides, making their flight appear erratic and unpredictable.

Fact 8: Mourning Doves Are Prey for Many Predators

Mourning doves are an important food source for various predators, including birds of prey, such as hawks and falcons, and mammals, like foxes and raccoons.

Their nests are also vulnerable to predation by snakes and squirrels.

To avoid predation, mourning doves rely on their speed, agility, and camouflage.

Fact 9: Mourning Doves Have a Relatively Short Lifespan

In the wild, mourning doves have an average lifespan of 1-3 years. However, some individuals can live up to 5 years or more.

Their short lifespan is due to various factors, including predation, disease, and accidents.

Fact 10: Mourning Doves Are Social Birds

Mourning doves are often seen in pairs or small groups, especially during the non-breeding season.

They will gather at communal roosts in the evening, sometimes in large numbers.

These social gatherings provide safety in numbers and help the birds stay warm during cold nights.

Fact 11: Mourning Doves Are Ground Feeders

Mourning doves prefer to feed on the ground, where they can easily find seeds and other food sources.

They have a unique feeding behavior called "tipping up," where they stretch their necks and tilt their heads to pick up seeds with their beaks.

Fact 12: Mourning Doves Are Symbols of Peace and Love

Due to their gentle appearance and soothing cooing sounds, mourning doves have long been associated with peace and love.

They are often used as symbols in art, literature, and various cultural traditions, representing hope, renewal, and the promise of a brighter future.