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Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Scientific Classification “It is almost always the male who makes the famous sad sound, which is a wooing call” Mourning Dove Conservation Status Mourning Dove Locations Mourning Dove Facts Mourning Dove Locations Mourning Dove Nesting Locations Mourning Dove Physical Characteristics Amazing Facts Where To Find Mourning Doves Mourning doves are native to North America and […]

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Scientific Classification

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“It is almost always the male who makes the famous sad sound, which is a wooing call”

Mourning Dove Conservation Status

  • Status: Least Concern

Mourning Dove Locations

  • Regions:
  • Central America
  • North America

Mourning Dove Facts

  • Fun Fact: It is almost always the male who makes the famous sad sound, which is a wooing call.
  • Estimated Population Size: 475 million
  • Biggest Threat: Cats
  • Most Distinctive Feature: Can be identified by silhouette, whether perched or in-flight
  • Other Name(s): Rain dove, turtle dove
  • Wingspan: 37-45 cm (14.6-17.7 in)
  • Incubation Period: 14 days / 2 weeks
  • Predators: Diurnal birds of prey, cats
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Favorite Food: Seeds
  • Type: Neoavian
  • Common Name: American mourning dove
  • Number Of Species: 5

Mourning Dove Locations

  • Regions:
  • Southwestern US
  • Mexico
  • Southern Canada
  • Panama

Mourning Dove Nesting Locations

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Vines
  • Buildings
  • Hanging flower pots
  • Ground

Mourning Dove Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Grey-Brown
  • Top Speed: 55 mph
  • Lifespan: 1.5-5 years in the wild, up to 19 years in captivity
  • Weight: 96–170 g (3.4–6.0 oz)
  • Length: 22.5-36 cm (8.9-14.2 in)
  • Age of Molting: 3 months
  • Migratory: Yes

Amazing Facts

  • Names and Common Names:
  • Its names include: American mourning dove, Carolina dove, Carolina pigeon, Carolina turtle dove, rain dove, turtle dove, and Western turtle dove.
  • The common name “American mourning dove” distinguishes it from the mourning collared dove (Streptopelia decipiens) of Africa, a distant relative.
  • Recognition:
  • It is recognizable by its silhouette, both when perched or in flight.
  • Distinctive Call:
  • The cooOOoo-woo-woo-woooo sound of its call is often mistaken for that of an owl.
  • Environmental Risk:
  • It is at risk of lead poisoning from eating left-over shot in hunting fields.

Where To Find Mourning Doves

Mourning doves are native to North America and have an impressive range of nearly 11 million square kilometers (4.2 million square miles). They can be found in southern Canada, the southwestern United States, the Greater Antilles, Bermuda, south-central Mexico, and Panama. These doves were also introduced to Hawaii in 1963. They thrive in open and semi-open environments, baby mourning dove, mourning dove eggs, mourning dove tattoo, mourning dove baby, mourning dove spiritual meaning, mourning dove male vs female, mourning dove lifespan, pigeon vs mourning dove, such as urban and suburban neighborhoods, prairies, grasslands, farms, and light woodlands. You’ll often spot them in open areas, along roadsides, and perched on telephone poles.


Mourning doves are highly adaptable and can make their nests in a variety of locations. While they prefer dense deciduous and coniferous trees, they also build nests in shrubs, vines, buildings, hanging flower pots, and even on the ground if necessary. Nest building begins in March, with the peak of their breeding season occurring between April and July. Females, assisted by males, construct loose nests from twigs, conifer needles, and grass blades. Sometimes, they reuse abandoned nests of other mourning doves, other bird species, or even tree-dwelling animals like squirrels.

Scientific Name

There are six other species in the genus Zenaida. The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) has five subspecies, with Z. m. macroura being the main one. Their ranges overlap slightly, and they have slight differences in appearance. The genus name Zenaida honors Zénaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte, the wife of French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte and niece of Napoleon Bonaparte. The species name macroura comes from the ancient Greek words “makros,” meaning “long,” and “ouros,” meaning “tailed.”

The mourning dove is closely related to the eared dove (Zenaida auriculata) and the Socorro dove (Zenaida graysoni), as well as to the pigeon genus Patagioenas. It has a more distant relation to the wild passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), which was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. Additionally, mourning dove vs pigeon, male vs female mourning dove, mourning dove fledgling, mourning dove call meaning, mourning dove egg, male mourning dove, mourning dove babies, female mourning dove, mourning dove sounds, the mourning dove resembles the European and North African turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), named for its distinctive purring “turr turr turr” song.


Scientists have identified five subspecies of the mourning dove:

  • Zenaida macroura carolinensis: Found in the Bahamas, Bermuda, eastern Canada, and the eastern United States.
  • Zenaida macroura clarionensis: Located on Clarion Island near western Mexico.
  • Zenaida macroura macroura: Inhabits Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.
  • Zenaida macroura marginella: Found in western Canada, south-central Mexico, and the western United States.
  • Zenaida macroura turturilla: Located in Costa Rica and western Panama.

Evolution and Classification

Mourning doves belong to the Zenaida genus, which includes six other species:

  • Eared doves
  • Galápagos doves
  • Socorro doves
  • West Peruvian doves
  • White-winged doves
  • Zenaida doves

These birds, native to the Americas, are part of the larger Columbidae family. This family encompasses 50 genera and 344 species. Generally, members of this group are referred to as doves or pigeons based on their size, with doves being smaller and pigeons being larger. A unique trait of these birds is their ability to produce crop milk, turtle dove vs mourning dove, mourning dove drawing, mourning dove extinct, mourning dove calls meaning, mourning dove habitat, two mourning dove spiritual meaning, how long does it take for mourning dove eggs to hatch, a nutrient-rich secretion, which both males and females can produce. They also have a preference for a grain-based diet.

The history of Columbidae dates back to the Cretaceous Period, between 66 and 145 million years ago. The group underwent rapid diversification during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, what happened to the mourning dove, mourning dove feathers, juvenile mourning dove, white winged dove vs mourning dove, white mourning dove, what does a mourning dove sound like, mourning dove vs turtle dove, which occurred around 66 million years ago and led to the extinction of about 75% of the Earth’s plant and animal life.


The mourning dove is a medium-sized, slender, and graceful bird, measuring between 22.5 and 36 cm (8.9 to 14.2 inches) in length, with an average length of 30.5 cm (12 inches). It weighs between 96 and 170 grams (3.4 to 6.0 ounces), averaging around 128 grams (4.5 ounces), and has a wingspan of 37 to 45 cm (14.6 to 17.7 inches). The dove’s plumage is light grey-brown on the top and pinkish grey-brown below, with black spots on its wide, elliptical wings. Its long, tapered tail features white outer feathers and black inner feathers. It has short, reddish legs, a round head, and a short, dark brown-black beak. The bird’s dark eyes are surrounded by light skin, with a crescent-shaped area of dark feathers underneath.

Adult males are distinguished by bright or iridescent purple-pink patches on the sides of their necks, light pink coloring down to the breast, and a bluish-grey crown. Females are generally more brown, slightly smaller, and have minimal bright feather patches. Juvenile mourning doves appear scaly and darker until they reach about three months of age, at which point their plumage becomes indistinguishable from that of adults. The five subspecies of mourning doves look similar to one another, with slight differences in coloring, beak shape, and leg length.

Migration pattern and timing

Mourning doves live year-round in the United States. During the summer, they can be found in southern Canada, and in the winter, they migrate to southern Central America.


The mourning dove’s call is a soft, drawn-out, mournful cooOOoo-woo-woo-woooo sound, often mistaken for an owl. The male utters this call as a wooing call. Pair members engage in a preening ritual, what does it mean when a mourning dove visits you, mourning dove for sale, mourning dove nesting habits, mourning dove feather meaning, male female mourning dove male, mourning dove fun facts, mourning dove sitting on veh, mourning dove feather, behr mourning dove, mourning dove mating, mourning dove song, gently nibbling around each other’s necks to bond, and progress to grasping beaks and bobbing their heads up and down in unison.

When hot, mourning doves pant because they cannot sweat, requiring them to drink large amounts of water, which they consume by suction. They sunbathe or enjoy a rain shower for up to twenty minutes by lying on the ground or on a flat tree limb, leaning over, and stretching one wing while maintaining the posture, hence the name “rain dove.” They also bathe in shallow pools or birdbaths and often engage in dust bathing.

Their flight is fast and bullet-straight. Outside the breeding season, they roost communally in trees. Unlike many other birds, they sleep with their heads resting between their shoulders, close to the body, rather than tucked under the shoulder feathers. To distract predators from the nest, a parent will pretend to be injured and flap on the ground at a distance, flying away at the last minute to lead the predator away.


Mourning doves have a mainly herbivorous diet, consisting primarily of various grass and grain seeds, which make up 99% of their food intake. Occasionally, they also eat snails and insects. To aid digestion, they swallow grit in the form of fine gravel or sand. These ground foragers prefer to eat what is readily visible on the ground or on plants, mourning dove mate for life, mourning dove chicks, what does it mean when you see a mourning dove, mourning dove nest box, mourning dove diet, mourning dove flying, sound of a mourning dove, mourning dove nesting, what does a mourning dove symbolize, fledgling mourning dove, mourning dove food, and they typically fly away after filling their crop. For a complete list of their diet, check out our “What Do Doves Eat?” page.

What do mourning doves eat?

Mourning doves enjoy a variety of seeds, including rapeseed, corn, millet, safflower, sunflower, pine nuts, sweetgum seeds, pokeberry, amaranth, canary grass, sesame, and wheat seeds. They also eat buckwheat, rye, goosegrass, and smartweed seeds, mourning dove mating season, how long for mourning dove eggs to hatch, mourning dove nesting box, mourning dove wings, with a particular fondness for corn.

Predators and Threats

Mourning doves enjoy a variety of seeds, including rapeseed, corn, millet, safflower, sunflower, pine nuts, sweetgum seeds, pokeberry, amaranth, canary grass, sesame, and wheat seeds. They also eat buckwheat, rye, goosegrass, and smartweed seeds, mourning dove nests, flying mourning dove, mourning dove tattoo meaning , fat mourning dove, meaning of mourning dove, what does a mourning dove look like,, young mourning dove, male and female mourning dove pictures, with a particular fondness for corn.

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Mourning doves begin building their nests in March, with the peak of their breeding season occurring from April to July, and in some areas extending as late as October. These birds are monogamous, pet mourning dove, albino mourning dove, mourning dove baby stages, mourning dove coo, mourning dove calls, remaining with the same mate for future breeding seasons. They are prolific breeders, capable of having up to six broods in a season, which is necessary due to high yearly mortality rates of 58% for adults and 69% for the young.

Mourning doves sometimes reuse their own or other species’ nests. Males present nesting sites for females to choose from, and then the female builds the nest with the male’s help, using twigs, conifer needles, and grass blades. They typically nest in dense deciduous or coniferous trees. Females lay 1-2 eggs, which are incubated for two weeks before hatching. The chicks, how long does it take for a mourning dove egg to hatch, baby mourning dove age chart, color mourning dove eggs, mourning dove range, called squabs, are fed crop milk for 3-4 days and then transition to eating seeds. They begin fledging in 11-15 days and continue to be fed by their father for up to two weeks. The first molt occurs at three months, with adult molting happening once every 14 days. By 85 days old, they are able to breed. If they survive their first year, mourning doves can live 4-5 years in the wild, and up to 19 years in captivity.


The mourning dove is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, with an estimated population size of 475 million, mourning dove bird, mourning dove migration, what is a mourning dove, mourning dove meaning spiritual, mourning dove behr, mourning dove poop, mourning dove chick, spiritual meaning of mourning dove, mourning dove nesting season, abandoned mourning dove eggs, what sound does a mourning dove make, can you have a mourning dove as a pet, which is increasing. In the 40 states where it is hunted, between 20 million and 70 million mourning doves are shot by hunters each year. However, in the western United States, the population has declined due to lead poisoning from ingesting spent shot.


The mourning dove is a resilient bird species characterized by its graceful appearance, mournful call, and herbivorous diet. Despite being widely hunted in many states, its population remains robust, with an estimated 475 million individuals and an increasing trend. However, challenges such as lead poisoning from spent shot pose threats to its populations, particularly in the western United States. Overall, the mourning dove’s status as Least Concern underscores its adaptability and widespread distribution across its range.

Soumik SarkarS

Soumik Sarkar

I am an animal lover from India. It's a trusted website for animal lover.

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