It is a member of the pigeon family, Columbidae. As one of the most common birds in North America, it is famous for its easily recognizable silhouette, the mournful sound of its call, as well as its symbolism of peace, grief, loved ones, friendship, companionship, and other themes. Although their biggest threat is predation by cats, the population is increasing.
- Their names include American Mourning Dove, Carolina Dove, Carolina Dove, Carolina Dove, Rain Dove, Tortoise Dove, and Western Tortoise Dove.
- The common name “American Mourning Dove” distinguishes it from the African Collared Dove (Streptopelia decipiens), a distant relative.
- It is recognizable by its silhouette, both in pose and in flight.
- The ooooh-woo-woo-woo sound of its call is often mistaken for that of an owl.
- You are at risk of lead poisoning by eating injection leftovers in hunting camps.
Where To Find
Mourning doves are native to North America and cover a large area of nearly 11,000,000 km2 (4,200,000 square miles). They live in southern Canada, the southwestern United States, the Greater Antilles, the Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda, south-central Mexico, and Panama.
They were introduced to Hawaii in 1963. The birds live in open and semi-open habitats, including urban and suburban neighborhoods, grasslands, grasslands, farms, and forests of light. You can find them in the open countryside, along the roads and perched on telephone poles.
Mourning dove nests
Mourning pigeons are very adaptable and can nest almost anywhere. Although their first choices are dense deciduous and coniferous trees, they also nest in bushes, vines, buildings, hanging pots, and, as a last resort, in the ground. They begin nesting in March and the peak of their breeding season is April-July.
The females, with the help of the males, build loose nests with twigs, conifer needles, and blades of grass, or use the unused nests of other mourning pigeons, other birds, or animals that live in trees such as squirrels.
There are 6 other species in the genus Zenaida. The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) has 5 subspecies, with Z. m. macroura is the named subspecies. Their ranges overlap slightly and their appearance differs slightly. The name of the genus Zenaida is a tribute to Zénaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte, wife of the French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte and nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, while the name of the macroura species comes from the ancient Greek word makros which means “long” and -ouros which means “to tail”. ”
The mourning pigeon is closely related to the long-eared pigeon (Zenaida auriculata) and the Socorro pigeon (Zenaida graysoni) and the genus of Patagioenas pigeons. It has a more distant relationship with the carrier or feral pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), which was hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. Finally, it is similar to the European and North African species (Streptopelia turtur) which is also called “turtledove” but for its specific name “turtur” which is a Latinization of its turr turr turr song.
Mourning Dove Appearance
The mourning dove is a medium-sized, slender, graceful bird with a length of 22.5 to 36 cm (8.9 to 14.2 in) with an average of 30.5 cm (12 in) and a weight of 96 to 170 g (3.4 to 6.0 oz)) with an average of 128 g (4.5 oz). Its wingspan is 37-45 cm (14.6-17.7 in). Their plumage is light greyish brown with pinkish greyish brown on the underside, with black spots on the broad, elliptical wings.
The long, tapering tail has white outer feathers and black inner feathers. It has short reddish legs, a round head, and a short, dark brown and black beak. The dark eyes are surrounded by light skin and underneath is a crescent-shaped area of dark feathers.
Adult males have bright or iridescent purple-pink patches on the sides of the neck, with a light pink color on the chest and a bluish-gray crown. Females are browner overall and are slightly smaller than males. Females also barely have patches of bright feathers.
Young birds look scaly and are darker until they reach 3 months of age, at which point they are indistinguishable in plumage from adults. The 5 mourning dove subspecies resemble each other, with slight differences in color, beak, and leg length.
The call of the mourning dove is a soft, long, dull sound, like a cooOOoo-woo-woo-woooo, easily and frequently mistaken for that of an owl. It is the male who pronounces it as a courtship call. Members of the pair groom each other by gently nibbling around the neck as a mating ritual, proceeding to grab beaks and shake their heads up and down in unison.
Grieving pigeons can be seen panting when hot because they can’t sweat, so they have to drink large amounts of water, which they drink by suction. They bask in the sun or rain for up to twenty minutes standing on the ground or on a flat branch of a tree, bending down and stretching one wing while maintaining posture, hence the name “rain pigeon”. They also bathe with water in shallow pools or birdbaths and often do powder baths as well.
Its flight is as fast and direct as a bullet. Outside of the breeding season, they perch in trees together. Unlike many other species, they sleep resting their heads between their shoulders, close to the body, rather than under the shoulder feathers. To distract predators from the nest, a parent will pretend to be injured and slam to the ground at a distance, then fly away from the predator at the last minute.
Mourning Dove Reproduction
They start nesting in March and their peak breeding season is from April to July. In some areas, it is sometimes until October. Mourning doves are monogamous and remain with the same pair for future breeding seasons. They are prolific breeders and can have up to 6 young in one season, which is necessary due to annual death rates of 58% for adults and 69% for juveniles.
Mourning pigeons sometimes reuse their own nests or those of other species. Males have nesting sites that females can choose from, after which the female builds the nest with the help of the male from twigs, coniferous needles, and blades of grass in dense deciduous or coniferous trees. Females lay 1-2 eggs which are incubated for 2 weeks before hatching.
The chicks are called chicks and are fed milk for 3-4 days, after which they also eat seeds. They begin fledging in 11-15 days and the father feeds them again for up to 2 weeks. The age of the first molt is 3 months, and the adult molt occurs once every 14 days. At 85 days they are able to reproduce. If the young survive their first year, they can live 4-5 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 19 years.