Mourning Doves

25 Fun Facts About Mourning Doves (A Complete Guide!)

Mourning doves are one of the most common birds in North America. Though they are often considered to be pests, they are actually very interesting creatures.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore some fun facts about mourning doves, including their identification, sounds and calls, maps and more.

So whether you’re a bird lover or just curious about these feathered creatures, read on for everything you need to know about mourning doves.

Fun Facts About Mourning Doves

Common Months

In North America they are seen from April to October, but in Europe the bird appears as early as March. This beautiful bird was once considered to be an important symbol of peace by the Native Americans who lived in North America. 


The Mourning Dove ranges throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada to Mexico. In the United States, it is the most widespread and abundant dove species.

Distribution Maps (Source)


Mourning doves are found in a variety of natural habitats such as water, wetlands and marshlands. They prefer to live in milder parts of North America including parks, prairies, roadsides, yards, farmland and suburbs.

Doves can be seen all year round, but they are most common during the spring months, when they migrate from the south to northern states for breeding season.

Their population is generally small, so you won’t see them very often even if you know where to look for them. These birds mainly live their lives on the ground; they don’t often fly high up into trees or nests because they like being near water sources for food and cover. 


Mourning Doves live on the ground and eat mostly seeds, grain, peanuts, wild grasses, berries and weeds which they find on the ground.

Mourning Doves are herbivores which means they only eat plants but if the opportunity arises then they will consume insects or earthworms, caterpillars or snails. ​​​​​​​

Mourning Doves
Photo by John Duncan on Unsplash


Of all the birds in North America, the Mourning Dove is one of the most commonly heard. Its distinctive coo is a familiar sound in many backyard and open habitats across the continent. But what does this bird’s call actually mean?

Contrary to its name, the Mourning Dove doesn’t primarily use its call to communicate sadness or grief. Instead, this cooing serves as a way for pairs of doves to maintain contact with each other.

The males and females will often take turns calling back and forth to one another, sometimes for hours at a time. In addition to its well-known coo, the Mourning Dove also makes a number of other sounds.

These include soft clicks and trills that are used as alarm calls, as well as sharp wing noises that serve to startle predators.

Mourning Dove Sounds (Source)


They can be found in all sorts of habitats, but prefer trees and bushes to build their nests.  Their nesting cycle starts with the female mourning dove choosing a mate from within her flock.

Once she chooses her mate they start building their nest together which is made up of pine needles, grasses, twigs, leaves, vines or any other material available at the time.

Nesting sites vary depending on where they are found: they usually nest on the ground but sometimes will also use eaves troughs or even gutters as nesting sites. 

Mourning Dove’s nest can be found all over North America (southern Canada to northern Mexico) during the summer months and Central America during winter months.​​​​​​​

Mourning Doves are birds that nest in the spring and summer. They typically have one brood per year, but may have up to seven broods. Their clutch size is 2-3 eggs and they incubate for 15 days before their young hatch.

Once hatched, the baby doves will live with their parents for 10-15 days until they can fly on their own. Mourning Doves may have the most complex nesting cycle of any bird species.

  • Clutch Size: 2 -3 eggs
  • Amount of Broods: 1-7 broods
  • Egg Width: 0.9-1.0 in (2.2-2.5 cm)
  • Egg Length: 0.9-1.3 in (2.2-3 cm)
  • Incubation Length: 15 days
  • Nestling Length: 10-15 days
  • Color of Egg: White

Attracting Mourning Doves

Mourning doves are often overlooked as a backyard bird. They can be attracted to your yard by planting dense shrubs or evergreen trees for nesting locations and by sprinkling millet, cracked corn, wheat, and sunflower seeds on the ground.

Mourning doves are attracted to feeders by the availability of seeds and a protected place to eat. If you’re looking for an easy way to attract these beautiful birds, try using a platform feeder with a roof for protection.

Doves will not come if you have animals like cats or dogs running freely in your yard. They also won’t come if there is too much noise or disturbance, such as traffic from cars going by all day long.


Do Mourning Doves mate for life?

Mourning Doves are loyal birds, some pairs stay together through the entire breeding season and some are monogamous, which means that they will stay with the same mate their whole life. A recent study was conducted to see if they do actually mate for life.

The research found that most of the doves studied did indeed find a lifelong partner and had no intention of leaving them in favor of another dove during mating season or otherwise.

Do Mourning Doves migrate?

Mourning doves are a migratory bird that spend winter in the Southern states and Mexico, even flying as far south as Central America. They migrate mainly to avoid cold temperatures that they cannot withstand, and also because of natural food sources disappearing during the colder months in North America.

This can be seen by their migration patterns to warmer climates when they return north for breeding season in the spring.

How long do Mourning Doves live?

Mourning doves live on average 1.5 -2 years in the wild due to illness and predators. Although, there have been cases where this bird has lived up to 19 years. In captivity, they can live up to 10–15 years, but their lifespan is shorter because of natural predators such as hawks, owls, and foxes, and diseases that exist in the wild.

In conclusion, they are considered short-lived birds, with an average lifespan of one year or less if they’re not taken care.

What does a Mourning Dove sound like?

These birds usually make seven different types of calls: coo-co ,chee-chee-, pee-pee-, weerp, weeep, teweeep, and pooouit. The “coo-co” call is the most common among mourning doves in, which they use to communicate with other doves as well as potential mates.

They produce coo-co call sounds over and over again, with each one getting progressively louder. It starts off with softer notes and then grows in volume, sounding almost like someone has been tapping a drum near you for hours.  

What kind of seeds doing Mourning Doves eat?

Mourning Doves love seeds. But some seeds are more loved than others. Black oil sunflower seeds, milo, cracked corn, wheat white millet, peanuts and canary seed are among the favorite seeds. The Mourning Dove has been observed to consume large quantities of these particular types of food sources.

They will often seek out as many as they can find when given the opportunity to eat them freely from a platform feeder or on the ground.

What do mourning doves eat in winter?

The question that many birders have is what do mourning doves eat in winter? The answer is not very much! Mourning doves will often forage on the ground or off of branches, but their main food source during this time are suet cakes.

Suet cakes can be purchased at any feed store and usually come with a mixture of seeds such as safflower, sunflower, corn, and millet. They should be hung from tree limbs about 4-5 feet high. 


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.

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