What Do Mourning Doves Eat? Everything You Need To Know

What Do Mourning Doves Eat

During summer, you’ll find many mourning doves around as they offer their mournful coos to spice up our sleep in the morning.

If you’re a birdie interested in the mourning dove, this is a great place to start. This article will take you through what mourning doves eat and their other many habits so that you can be better informed.

Mourning Doves Are Granivores

Mourning doves are pretty unique. They’re not like other songbirds that eat insects, creepy crawlies, or spiders. They’re granivores, which means they feed on seeds, grains, herbs and weeds, and wild grasses.

However, occasionally, you’ll see them grab a snail or berry.

What Do Mourning Doves Eat?

If you’re planning to attract mourning doves to your feeders, you need to know what their favorite foods are, and they include the following;

  • Safflower
  • Peanuts
  • Cracked corn
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Millet
  • Nyjer

What Are The Best Feeders For Mourning Doves?

The mourning dove’s preferred natural habitat is in open spaces and fields, so they can have unrestricted access to the ground and conduct their feeding.

However, the bird can move around tight spaces like a feeder with small branches or a dense tree.

There are two types of feeders that can accommodate the mourning dove: hopper feeder and platform feeder.

If there’s much competition for food with other birds in the top feeder, the mourning dove will find their way to the ground and dine on fallen seeds.

But then again, if your feeders have enough space for the mourning dove to perch comfortably and stay balanced, they’ll always return.

From their constant visits, you’ll discover that the mourning dove love to eat in pairs and they mate for life.

Mourning Dove Habits

Mourning doves make coo sounds that may sound sad to many people, but when bird enthusiasts listen to it, they know it means that the birds are ready to claim their territory, start nesting, and raise their young.

What Do Mourning Doves Look Like?

Mourning doves are 12 inches in size, and they are quite slim (slimmer than pigeons). They also have a soft brown-gray body, and if you look closely, you’ll find a gray patch on their head.

Furthermore, on their wings, you’ll find black dots and also find a black spot below and behind their eyes. Mourning doves also have a long tapered tail. 

While in flight, if you look closely at their tail, you’ll discover that it has a white edge.

Mourning Doves Basic Habitat

These birds prefer to stay in open land with many trees and shrubs for nesting and cover. Doves are among the most flexible and common North American birds that you can find.

Furthermore, the best habitat for these birds includes open lawns, flower beds and herbaceous borders, with many patches of shrubs and trees.

What Are The Nesting Habits Of Mourning Doves?

Doves usually start their nest building project around March, and it takes them two to four days to finish. The nest-building project requires weeds, twigs, grass and pine needles.

The nest is quickly put together, which is why when you look at it from the bottom, you’ll be able to see through because the quality isn’t that solid.

Many people want to help birds out by solidifying their nest because it looks loose. However, I believe that you should just let them be.

Another reason many people have for moving bird nests is that the nest is close to where pets like cats and dogs are kept, which can cause conflict.

If you have to move the dove nest for any reason, please wait until they have hatched their eggs.

This is because if the birds see you coming, they may get scared and fly off, and in the process, their eggs could fall off the nest.

That’s not all

Whenever nests are moved, in most cases, the birds will interpret it as an attack, and before you know it, the birds will abandon the nest for not being safe.

Best case scenario, don’t move the nest. The only situations where you’ll be allowed to move nests are if the nest was built on a movable object like a tractor or a car parked in a location for a long time.

As you move the nest, please place it in another location close to where you found the nest.

Nest Abandonment

Mourning doves are sensitive creatures, and because of that, they readily abandon nests. If they feel that their lives are under any form of threat, either animal or human, they’ll change location to nest.

Thereby abandoning their nestlings and eggs, so you need to be very careful not to trigger them.

Mourning dove nests are usually 5 to 25ft above the ground, and in most cases, you’ll find it in the heart of a tree. Most mourning doves will lay two white eggs that are incubated for about 14 to 15 days.

Important Nesting Information

Many people have complained that their dove hasn’t left its nest in many days and wonder if it will die of thirst or starve to death.

Mourning doves are not like other birds. These birds can incubate their eggs continuously. Since the female and male mourning birds look alike, you may think it’s the same bird incubating the eggs from the onset.

Whereas in reality, mourning doves operate a shifting system. The female handles the night shift while the male handles the daytime shift.

So, if you’re not there to see them hand over, you’ll think the same bird has been in the nest for the entire duration of the incubation process.

Why Do Baby Mourning Doves Leave Their Nest?

As soon as the baby dove hatches, the adults will begin the brooding process, which takes between four to five days to complete. During this time, it may not occur to you that the eggs have already hatched.

Once the chicks become six or seven days old, the adults will start granting them some form of freedom to be alone and get used to their environment.

From age 12 to 14, the young mourning dove will become independent and leave the nest. Adult mourning doves are widely known for reusing a particular nest to hatch up to five sets of eggs.

Dove’s peak breeding season starts from April till July. In some rare cases, they might breed late around October.

What Do Mourning Dove Feed Their Young?

Mourning doves and pigeons are two birds that produce a food source called pigeon milk (though it’s not the natural milk) by the glands of the parent bird.

Once the adult dove produces the food, they’ll open their mouth and encourage the chicks to stick their head inside and dine on the nourishing meal.

After some days, the parent dove will stop feeding pigeon milk to the chick and introduce regurgitating seeds.

The parent mourning doves will continue to feed the young chicks for up to one month after hatching.

Even after the young chicks leave their nest, their parents will continue to teach and help them to ensure they are well equipped to survive out there.

In the wild, the primary food source for adult birds are field waste grain, and it includes the following;

  • Weed seeds
  • Wheat
  • Grass
  • Corn

If you want these birds to get attracted to your feeder, you have to place red and white proso millet, cracked corn, and oil-type sunflower seeds to get their attention.

Do Mourning Doves Mate For Life?

Many birdies always wonder what will happen to their bird if either of the male parent or the female dies.

In many cases, the living bird parent will try to incubate the eggs or provide food for the nestlings if they’ve already hatched.

This is a challenging task for a single bird and in most cases, the living bird may not be able to handle the situation.

Meanwhile, as time passes, the surviving bird will look for a new mate. Since mourning doves nest two or three times a year, there’s a huge possibility that they’ll nurture a fruitful brood in the same year.

I know losing birds on your property can be depressing, but get some comfort knowing that they will surely mate again.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Mourning Bird?

For mourning doves, the lifespan of a young bird differs from that of adults. For the young birds in their first year, their life span is between 1yr to 1.5 years, and their mortality rate is around 60 to 70%.

For the adults, their mortality rate is around 50 or 60%.

In the life journey of birds, the first year is the most difficult to survive. If a bird survives the first year, they stand a better chance of living for four or five years in the wild.

Predators That Attack Mourning Doves

Here are the predators that prey on mourning doves, and they are;

  • Air Threat
  • Falcons
  • Hawks
  • Land Threat
  • Cats
  • Snakes
  • Crows
  • Opossums
  • Grackles
  • Raccoons

Due to the ground feeding pattern of mourning doves, they are often caught by predators.

The Bottom Line

The mourning bird is a fantastic bird and the best way to attract them to your feeder is to feed them their favorite food like Safflower, Peanuts, Cracked corn, Sunflower seeds, Millet and Nyjer.