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Mourning Dove

Common Name: Mourning Dove.

Scientific Name: Zenaida Macroura.

What to look for?  Two love birds forever together! Mourning Doves have plump bodies with short legs. They have a long pointed tail. Mourning Doves have a head that looks particularly small in comparison to its body and has a small bill. Their coloring is a light brown to buffy-tan overall with black spots on the wings and black-bordered white tips on the ends of their tail feathers.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? You can find Mourning Doves around here all year. They may show up at bird feeders or foraging underneath. You will see them perch in trees.

How big are they? The Mourning Dove averages just over 12 inches in length. And their wingspan is nearly 18 inches. They weigh in at around five ounces.

What are their flight patterns? Mourning Doves fly fast on powerful wingbeats, sometimes making sudden ascents, descents, and dodges with their pointed tails stretching behind them. You may hear that sound when Mourning Dove flocks take off, it is their wings that make this fluttering whistle.

How else do they behave? Mourning Doves epitomize the term “lovey-dovey”. Members of a pair preen each other with gentle nibbles around the neck. Male Mourning Doves have favorite “cooing perches” that they defend from other males. They feed in the open and on the ground. They peck or push aside ground litter rather than scratch at the ground like many birds.

What’s for dinner?Seeds! Mourning Doves feeds almost exclusively on seeds.

Where do they take up residence? You can see Mourning Doves nearly anywhere except the deep woods. Look for them in fields or patches of bare ground, or on overhead perches like telephone wires. Primarily a bird of open country, scattered trees, and woodland edges, but large numbers roost in woodlots during winter such as the woods north of Carillon Stonegate Pond.

When and where do they breed and nest? Mourning Doves breeding prolifically. In warm climates, they may raise up to six broods per year, more than any other native bird. They typically nest amid dense foliage on the branch of an evergreen, orchard tree, mesquite, cottonwood, or vine. The nest is a very flimsy platform of twigs.

Where do they migrate? Mourning Doves vary in their migration habits. Many remain in one place through winter over most of breeding range. Some Mourning Doves that breed in central and southern U.S. move a few hundred miles. And some may move south from northern areas in the fall. They migrate in flocks and mostly by day.

What is their conservation status? There is low concern. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the Mourning Dove has seen slight decreases in populations. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 150 million.

Do they make any interesting sounds? Mourning Doves make a low mournful (hence its name) “coo-ah” and “coo, coo, coo” sound.  Here is a link to the sounds of the Mourning Dove.

Interesting Facts About the Mourning Dove:

  • Mourning Doves tend to feed busily on the ground, swallowing seeds and storing them in an enlargement of the esophagus called the “crop” (the record is 17,200 bluegrass seeds in a single crop!); then they fly to a safe perch to digest the meal (it could not be confirmed if the record setter was able to actually fly away!).

  • Mourning Doves eat roughly 12 to 20 percent of their body weight per day.

  • Mourning Dove remains one of our most abundant birds with a U.S. population estimated at 99 million.

  • The Mourning Dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America with more than 20 million harvested annually.

  • The oldest known Mourning Dove was approximately 30 years old.

For more information on the Mourning Dove and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit All About Birds, Audubon Society and National Geographic.  And the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a wonderful source of information for anyone interested in learning more about birds.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, plants and insects. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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