Even though they tend to sing before dawn, mourning doves are so named for their sorrowful song. The melody is a low-pitched, sort of hollow series of whistles. The first two phrases have a high pitch with the last three generating a single, low pitch.Another unique sound of this wild bird species involves taking flight. As these doves fly off, a distinguishable “wing whir’ is made when air passes over the feathers. This twittering noise signals an alarm to other doves when startled and must fly away from danger.
The mourning dove is the most widespread of North American dove species. These large birds nest in all 48 contiguous states, along with the Canadian and Mexican borders. The only habitats not conducive to these unique birds are dense forests. Mourning doves are year round inhabitants in almost all areas of the country. However, one can not call them skilled homebuilders by any means. The thin, flimsy nest consists of a loose stick platform that a light wind could blow apart. Eggs sometimes can be seen simply by looking up through the bottom of a mourning dove’s nest. In warm climates, it is possible for a parenting pair to raise 6 broods per year, putting rabbits to shame for being so prolific.
A seed eating bird, mourning dove bills are not designed to crack seed shells, however. These sociable birds prefer eating seeds with softer shells like those of weeds and grasses. Millet, corn or no-shell seeds fit the diet of these ground dwellers. We owe our gratitude for the vast number of weed seeds they consume around our towns and suburban homes. When doves do encounter food sources with hard shells, they swallow the entire seed and crush the shells in their gizzards. This explains why you see these birds sitting in tree branches for hours after visiting your bird feeders. They are resting while their bodies digest the birdseeds.
Mourning doves are smaller and have a longer tail than the Rock Dove or Pigeon. The birds are considered game birds in a number of states, yet the population numbers in the millions each year.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.