What Do Doves Eat? A Simple Diet For Doves

What Do Doves Eat

Doves and their close cousins, pigeons, are some of the most common urban birds in the United States. 

If you feed birds in your backyard, you must have seen doves daily since they are accustomed to human presence.

Scientists continue to make more discoveries about the diet of wild birds, but just like humans, they need proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. 

So what can you feed your dove or other wild doves and pigeons? Let us look at the details;

What Do Doves Eat?

Doves primarily feed on grains and seeds. They eat cereals, corn, rye, barley, vetch, oats, peas, and several other seeds. They have one of the widest ranges of foods in any bird species. They can also eat fruits and vegetables.

Some doves will prefer to eat fresh fruit from trees over grain. They also partly feed on some green leaves and grasses to supplement their diet. Insects are a part of doves’ diet as well; crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, and ants are all on the menu for doves.

Having A Dove As A Pet

Understandably, anyone interested in birds could want to keep a dove as a pet, and they are wondering what kind of experience it will be. 

Doves are very common as pets and if you want to have a dove, here is what you need to do and what you should expect;

Doves are different from other pets like parrots since they are a quitter and gentle group. Doves are generally docile, and they don’t bite or make a lot of noise like parrots. 

This would be the best choice for someone who wants a quiet and cuddly companion. Doves need some special care when in captivity because they are prolific egg layers.

You have to make sure the dove gets a proper diet at all times to keep it healthy and to avoid complications with the egg-laying process. 

Ensure they get an appropriate amount of calcium and vitamins to keep them healthy and help with the laying of eggs. 

Having mineral deficiency could make the dove ill or egg-bound when they start laying eggs which could be fatal.

Egg-binding refers to a condition where an egg gets stuck inside the dove, and this is a common issue with pigeons and doves. 

Most people believe that doves only need seeds to stay healthy, but they have more needs that seeds cannot meet. 

If you plan to own a dove, you need to see a vet to tell you precisely what the dove needs to stay healthy, especially if it is female. 

Doves mate for life, so you need to be kind when getting a pet and make sure you get a mate for it to keep it company. 

How To Draw Doves To Your Yard

If you feel like keeping a dove as a pet is too much work, and you still want to be around doves, you can do it by attracting them to your yard. 

By doing this, you will be with them and still give them space to find any additional nutrients they might need to survive. If you live in an area with many wild doves, you can easily attract them to your yard. 

The basic concept is, providing them with habitat and food, thus making your yard their home and backyard. The experience is fulfilling, and their presence is charming.

The steps to attracting doves are simple, but there is no guarantee that doves will come to your yard immediately. 

However, if your efforts bear fruits, you will not regret the effort. Here are some things you will need;

  • Small seeds to feed the birds. Doves are flexible in terms of diet, and they eat almost all types of seeds. Wheat, barley, and cereals will all work well for doves.
  • Get a birdbath and fill it with clean, fresh water for the birds to drink.
  • Medium-sized boxes or containers for the birds to nest in.

Scatter the seeds or cereals that doves like to eat in your yard and leave it for the birds to find. Feed the doves during spring or summer, so they know where to find food. 

They use these warm months to scout for locations with dependable food supplies. If you start putting out food late in winter, they will not come since they would have moved to a more reliable food source. 

Put out water close to the food for the doves to hydrate and cool off after eating. The best depth for dove drinking water is 2 inches. 

Most birds need small stones to help in their digestion. Make small stones available for the doves by putting them in a specific and open place on the ground. 

The stones are essential in helping the bird break down food for more efficient digestion. Boxes will be a good place for the birds to nest. 

Get some boxes, put soft material like grass or shredded paper in them, and hang them around your yard. Make sure they are out of the rain and at different levels to attract more doves.

Grow plants that doves like sunflower, tall grass, and evergreen trees to give them a more conducive environment. 

Keep all predatory animals like dogs and cats away from your yard since they will scare the doves away. Also, make sure that your yard is open enough to allow the doves to see all around them. 

This will give them space to see any danger and fly away from it as fast as possible; thus, they will feel safer being there.

Limit the amount of human activity in your yard. Reduce loud noises as much as possible and reduce human presence on the doves’ feeding spots. 

Doves will not come to places with too much activity since they are scared of humans and loud engine noises.

Facts And Features Of Doves

There are a lot of features that are associated with the dove that you probably didn’t know. They are often confused with pigeons since they are in the same family and have the same habits. Here are some features of doves to help you recognize them and understand them better.

  • Doves are smaller than pigeons, and they have a pointed tail with gray or white plumage. Pigeons are bigger with square or rounded tails.
  • Speaking of love, doves mate for life. They have one mate, and in some cases, a dove does not mate with any other when its original mate dies.
  • Unlike most birds, both male and female doves play a role in taking care of the chicks. They both feed and protect the chicks until they are ready to go out in the wild.
  • Doves and pigeons are the symbols of peace and love. This is most common with the white dove, which relates to peace because of the bird’s peaceful and loving nature.
  • They mostly live in towns and cities in populated areas or abandoned buildings that offer shelter from the rain. Humans used them in medieval times to pass messages from kingdoms to others since they can take long flights.
  • They have a lifespan of between 3 to 6 years.
  • Their heads rest between their shoulders when they sleep rather than tucking them under their wings like most birds.
  • Doves and pigeons have a homing instinct that allows them to find their home from thousands of miles away, even when blindfolded. 
  • Doves are very intelligent and are one of the few birds that can recognize themselves in a mirror. They can also recognize letters of the human alphabet and tell the difference between photographs.
  • Doves have extraordinary hearing abilities, and they can perceive sounds of lower frequencies than humans can. They are very clean birds, but they transmit many diseases to other birds that make contact with them.
  • Doves and pigeons are essential for most religious groups, and most consider them a sign of good luck. For these reasons, most people feed doves on their property to attract more.
  • The parents feed to produce a unique product called crop milk to feed their young. The chicks stick their beaks unto the parent’s mouth, and the parent regurgitates crop milk. This solution has a high concentration of nutrients, just like a mother’s milk.


Doves mostly eat cereals, grains, and fruit. Occasionally, doves can eat worms and other small insects they can find. 

Owners should keenly address the nutritional needs of doves kept as pets since doves are prolific layers.

A better option for dove lovers is to attract them to your home without keeping them in captivity. You can do this by providing food, water, and a place for them to nest. 

You can add some calcium supplements to help the females with laying eggs. Doves are a peaceful and well-kept bird species used as a universal symbol for love and peace. 

This love is seen in them mating for a lifetime and caring for their young. They are a truly majestic species that we need to protect.