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Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

Length: 12 inches Wingspan: 17 - 19 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Mostly gray with black spots on wings, long tail with white spots along edge, distinctive cooing

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macrouraOne of the most common birds across the state in the summer time, Mourning Doves are a very common sight across a variety of open and semi-open habitats.  A prolific breeder, they will often raise multiple broods per year, and has been documented raising up to 6 broods in a single year in warmer southern states.  Their mournful cooing songs are a common sound in much of the United States during the spring and summer months.

Habitat:

Farms, residential areas, roadsides, grasslands, open woods.  Found in nearly any open or semi-open habitat. 

Diet:

Feeds almost exclusively on seeds.  Will rarely take insects or tiny invertebrates.

Behavior:

Does the majority of foraging on the ground, filling its crop with seeds before moving off to digest seeds at rest.  They will also occasionally feed on seeds while perched in vegetation.

Nesting:

Late April through mid-September, often with multiple broods in one year. Mourning Doves are monogamous, forming strong bonds that may span multiple years. When constructing a nest, the male gathers material and passes it to the female, who constructs the actual nest. The nest is a very poorly built, flimsy platform of twigs and grasses, typically built amongst the foliage of a dense bush or tree, but they will also nest on the ground or on man-made structures. Two eggs are laid, with both the male and female helping to incubate them. Incubation lasts about 2 weeks, and the young fledge from the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Song:

The song of a Mourning Dove is a mournful cooing consisting of multiple phrases. Click here to hear the song of a cooing Mourning Dove (audio courtesy of Jim Berry). They also have a distinctive whistling sound that comes from the wings when taking flight. Click here to hear the typical sound of a Mourning Dove taking flight (audio courtesy of Andrew Spencer).

Migration:

Most northern Mourning Doves migrate south in the fall, but some may remain in winter.

Interactive eBird Map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Mourning Dove sightings

Similar Species:

Eurasian Collared Dove, White-winged Dove

Bird Feeders:

Will attend for sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, and other seeds.

Conservation Status:

Very common and widespread, there are probably many more Mourning Doves now than before European Settlement, due to man's fragmentation of habitat. They are hunted heavily in many parts of the United States, but it hasn't been a threat to overall populations. The IUCN considers the Mourning Dove to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Mourning Dove

2) BirdWeb - Mourning Dove

3) Audubon Guide - Mourning Dove

Photo Information:

 July 5th, 2009 - Brandon, South Dakota -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Mourning Dove photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Mourning Dove - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Very common and widespread in the state in the summer.  Uncommon to rare in winter, most often found in the extreme southern part of the state.

Additional Mourning Dove Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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