Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

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Mourning Dove On Nest

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Mourning Dove Nest With Eggs

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Mourning Dove

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Mourning Dove

photo of Mourning Dove
Zenaida macroura
Columbidae (pigeons and doves) in the order Columbiformes

A slender bird with a rounded head and smooth-looking breast. The plumage is gray brown with black spots on the wings. The tail is long and tapered to a point, with large white tips on the feathers. The eyes are dark. Song is a soft, inflected “coo-AH-oo” followed by several coos.

Length: 12 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
Mourning doves are found mainly in crop fields, around farms, and in yards. They predate man in America and proved quite adaptable to the arrival of humans. Prairie fires set by Indians benefited doves by creating bare ground for feeding sites and enhancing growth of seed-producing plants. New agricultural practices of crop farming, livestock grazing, forest clearing, burning, and introduction of exotic seed-bearing plants helped dove populations. Hunting of these abundant game birds is popular.
This bird eats mainly seeds, plus some insects, as it walks on the ground in crop fields, around farms, and in yards. Young squabs are fed "pigeon milk," a nutritious secretion from the adult crop gland. After about a week, the young are weaned to seeds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Common migrant and summer resident statewide; uncommon during the winter months.
Life cycle: 
Courtship is in April. Usually 2 eggs are laid in a flimsy nest and are incubated for 14 days. Squabs are fully fledged at about 2 weeks. Once a pair complete their first nest, they start on the next, and can have as many as 7 nesting attempts between late March and early September. In July and August juveniles begin flocking together. As winter arrives they begin to fly south. Most leave by October 15. Some locations with abundant food and roosting sites hold flocks all year.
Human connections: 
Dove hunting is a popular and rewarding sport, as many consider doves good eating. Look at the current Wildlife Code of Missouri for specific regulations. Although doves don’t eat directly from bird feeders, they commonly glean seed from the ground beneath them.
Ecosystem connections: 
Many predators eat mourning doves. The eggs and chicks often fall prey to snakes, hawks, and skunks and other mammals. Like rodents, doves reproduce at a high rate and live but a short time. Only 40 percent of doves hatched in a given year survive until the next breeding season.
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