|Species: Mourning Dove
The Mourning Dove
is among the most abundant and widespread terrestrial birds endemic
to North and Middle America. This sleek, gray-brown dove shows white
tips on outer tail feathers in flight and its long, pointed tail
gives it a streamlined shape at long distance. It may commonly be
seen picking food (seeds and fruit) from the ground, walking with
mincing steps and bobbing its head. The mournful vocalization of
this species is distinctively recognizable to people in spring and
summer and has given rise to its common name.
Breeding populations of the two principal subspecies-the larger,
grayish brown eastern ‘carolinensis’ and the slightly smaller, paler
western ‘marginella’-occur in parts of southern Canada, all of the
lower 48 states, and into temperate Mexico.
Streamlined, mid-sized dove (columbid) with small head and long
males: 26.t-34 cm; females 22.5-31 cm. 120 g. (males heavier)
Colour grayish blue or grayish brown above, buffy below. Black spots
on wing coverts and behind eye; pink wash below. Wing and tail
feathers gray except for black-bordered white tips on tail.
Delicate, black bill; dull red legs and feet. Eyes dark brown
bordered by bluish skin.
Slightly less colourful than male, with tannish breast versus pale
rosy breast of male. Male head has bluish crown and nape, female
Immatures have buffy-tipped primary wing coverts. Heavy spotting;
scaled effect on wings.
May be confused with several other species including White-winged
Dove and Eurasian Collared-Dove. Distinguished from White-winged by
lack of white patches in wing (prominent in flight) and long,
pointed (not rounded) tail.
flight is capable of swift direct flights and rapid changes of pace
and altitude. On the ground it walks or runs rather than hops. Uses
open ground and avoids dense ground cover. This dove takes advantage
of seasonally available food resources among a wide variety of
habitats. Diet consists mostly of seeds from cultivated and wild
a habitat generalist, the species has benefited from human changes
to the North American landscape. Habitats vary widely in both rural
and urban landscapes; open habitats are preferred and the species
generally shuns only extensively forested areas and wetlands.
This species is
valued by the general public in rural, suburban, and urban locales
because it occurs widely, nests readily around yards and farmsteads,
and is a frequent visitor to bird feeders.
The Mourning Dove is a partial migrant; most breeding populations in
northerly latitudes are migratory, and individuals in southern
latitudes are primarily resident. Reproductive strategy of the
Mourning Dove is characterized by a determined clutch size of 2 and
a protracted breeding season in which multiple nesting attempts can
occur every 30 days. Birds in southern latitudes may nest during
almost the entire year. As with other pigeons and doves, adults of
both sexes share incubation duties, and both parents feed newly
hatched young on “crop milk,” a unique secretion of the cells of the
crop wall. The Mourning Dove is a short-lived species, with an
average adult life span of about one year.
It is the leading gamebird in North America in terms of total
harvest and the widespread distribution of hunting effort.
Approximately one million hunters annually harvest more than 20
million birds, which exceeds the annual harvest of all other
migratory game birds combined. (USFWS 2007)
among 251 species in relative abundance throughout its distribution,
and population abundance in the U.S. has been estimated to be
approximately 250 million.
Although Mourning Doves can remain resident in the Lower
Mainland, it is more likely that these northern birds
migrate long distances to the southernmost part of their
range as seen by zero capture rates (2010-2012; standardized
as birds captured per 100 net hours) during the winter
months. Seen in the park through the spring, summer and
fall, capture rates of these birds prove that they are not