MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
DESCRIPTION: The Mourning Dove is generally brown-grey with a dark spot below the eye, and some black spots on the wings. The breast and under parts have pinkish tones. The tail is long and pointed, and the outer feathers are white. The short bill is grey, the eyes are black, and the legs and feet are pink. Sexes are similar. The bird is about one foot (30 cm) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Zenaida-macroura – See video below also. The mourning sound is made from air that was inflated into the throat. Mourning doves will often call from the ridge of a house roof mid-day during the summer or from an electrical wire.
NAME: The mourning dove owes its name to its plaintive song (from males to attract females). The English name ‘Dove’ means ‘to dive’, in reference to the bird’s irregular flight. The Latin genus name ‘Zenaida’ was given to honor Zenaide, the wife of French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte. As for the Latin species name ‘macroura’, it comes from Greek and means ‘long tail’.
HABITAT: Generally found in open areas, will roost in woods during winter. They are well adapted to urban environments.
DIET: Mourning doves forage for seeds on the ground, including around bird feeders. They are almost exclusively seed eaters.
NESTING: The nest is a flimsy assemblage built in a tree, on the ground or even on human-built structures. One or two white eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. They also both feed the chick with pigeon’s milk. Up to six broods may be raised each year, helping to compensate losses from hunting.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is native to North America starting from southern Canada. The northernmost populations will migrate south for the winter, but most of the birds are year-round residents. What helps them stay in the winter is bird feeding.
ON HAWAII: The mourning dove was released in 1964 on the Big Island of Hawaii, with small populations now on Maui and Oahu as well.
ON PEI: Mourning doves are year-round residents on Prince Edward Island.
CONSERVATION: Mourning doves number around 475 million worldwide, and some 20 million are being hunted every year. There is the problem of doves eating lead pellets in hunting fields, but otherwise the bird is considered as ‘least concern’.
NOTES: Doves belong to the same family as pigeons, and walk the same way on the ground, with the head moving at every step. A whistling sound (from their feathers) can be heard when they land or take off.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Spotted Dove, Eastern Turtle Dove
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
The first video shows a mourning dove bathing, and in doing so spreading out and up its wings one at a time.
The next video shows a mourning dove ‘mourning’ from the ridge of a roof.
Here below is a mourning dove trying to keep its legs and feet warm on a cold January day:
BACK TO THE TOP