While the Red-winged Blackbird probably tops it, the Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant and widespread birds in North America. Mourning Doves are resident across much of their range, though northern birds move south in the winter, and the species often turns up at bird feeders.
Male Mourning Doves establish their territorial boundaries with several cooing perches from which they give their mournful song. During fall and winter, Mourning Doves become gregarious and can be seen in flocks of hundreds or even thousands.
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Description of the Mourning Dove
Along with the Rock Pigeon, the Mourning Dove is the most widespread and familiar of North American pigeons and doves. It is a slender, grayish-brown dove with a long tail, and black spots on folded wings. It has a pale blue orbital ring around each eye, and in flight shows white edgings to a long, pointed tail. Length: 12 in. Wingspan: 18 in.
Seasonal change in appearance
Juveniles have faint spots or scallops on the breast and neck.
Baby Mounring Dove shown below.
Roadsides, farms, towns, and open country.
Almost entirely seeds.
Forages on the ground, and will feed on spilled seeds from bird feeders. Often occurs in flocks in the fall and winter.
Breeds throughout the U.S., Mexico, and southern Canada. Its population is more or less stable.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Mourning Dove.
The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
Young Mourning Doves are fed “pigeon milk” by both sexes. This is a special secretion from the crop wall of the parents.
The Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant and widespread birds in North America.
A familiar, mournful “cooo, cooo, coo”.
The White-winged Dove has a large white bar along each wing, and a rounded rather than pointed tail.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove also lacks a pointed tail, and has a black collar on the back of its neck. Collar can be hard to see.
Mourning Doves usually build a very flimsy, see-through nest of twigs in a tree or shrub, but they also may nest on the ground.
Number: Usually 2 eggs.
Incubation and fledging:
Young hatch at about 14 days and leave the nest at about 15 days, but continue to be fed by the male for up to 30 days.
Bent Life History of the Mourning Dove
Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.
Bent Life History for the Mourning Dove – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.
ZENAIDURA MACROURA CAROLINENSIS (Linnaeus)
The mourning dove must have been one of the first birds that attracted the attention of the early settlers when this country was new and wild. They must have recognized the bird as not far removed from some of the Old-World species of pigeons, and its notes must have recalled to them their old home. The writers of these times speak of the bird familiarly, especially as a game bird that relieved the hardships of pioneer life. At the present time, in the Northern States, protected as a song bird, it adds a quiet dignity to our avifauna, while in the Southern States it is a common, tame, almost a dooryard bird and a gleaner of fleids, except when, during the hunting season, it is shot for food and sport. In the West it is an inhabitant both of the plains and the mountains, ranging commonly to 7,000 feet altitude.
And yet, well known and widely distributed as the bird is, it is not a conspicuous bird of the country at all. It is quiet in voice, neutral in color, and so unobtrusive in deportment that it seems little more than a part of the background; a quiet, pastoral bird, reminding us of the man in “The Bab Ballads ~~: ” no characteristic trait had he of any distinctive kind “: or of sweet, lovable, but wholly negative Hero in “Much Ado about Nothing.”
Spring: In the parts of the country where the mourning dove spends the winter, one of the early signs of spring is when the winter flocks begin to break up and the doves separate into mated pairs. Just as the mockingbird in the Southern States bursts suddenly into song and separates winter from spring, so the male mourning dove, who has been silent through the winter, at the first hint of spring begins to coo.
As the breeding season approaches, the birds become gradually tamer and, as Wilson (1832) says, they “are often seen in the farmer’s yard before the door, the stable, barn, and other outhouses, in search of food, seeming little inferior in familiarity, at such times, to the domestic pigeon “: a contrast to the wild game bird of the autumn.
Courtship: Very little has been published on the courting actions of the mourning dove, and apparently no detailed study has been made of them. Indeed, many observers who know the bird well state that they have seen no courting at all.
Barrows (1912), who gives a careful description of a nuptial flight, points out that “although familiar with the mourning dove’s habits in New England, western New York, and elsewhere we have never seen this peculiar flight except in Michigan.” He says:
An individual leaves its perch on a tree, and, with vigorous and sometimes noisy flapping (the wings seeming to strike each other above the back), rises obliquely to a height of a hundred feet or more, and then, on widely extended and motionless wings, glides back earthward in one or more sweeping curves. Usually the wings, during the gliding flight, are carried somewhat below the plane of the body, in the manner of a soaring yellowlegs or sandpiper, and sometimes the bird makes a complete circle or spiral before again flapping its wings, which it does just before alighting. * This peculiar evolution is commonly repeated several times at intervals of two or three minutes, and appears to be a display flight for the benefit of its mate, the assumption being that only the male dove soars.
Goss (1891) speaks of the courtship thus:
During the pairing season the male often circles and sails above his mate, with tail expanded, and upon the ground struts about with nodding head, and feathers spread in a graceful manner,
Craig (1911), speaking of the “nest-calling attitude,” calls attention to the display of the ornamented tail. He says:
The male [sits] with his body tilted forward, tail pointing up at a high angle, the head so low that bill and crop may rest on the floor, or if the bird be in the nest, the head is down in the hollow. Both the voice and the attitude of the male serve to attract the female, for in all pigeons the nest-call is accompanied by a gentle flipping of the wings, ogling eyes, and a seductive turning of the head. In addition to these general columbine gestures, Zenaidura has a special bit of display of his own, for during the first note of the nest-call he spreads his tail just enough to show conspicuously the white marks on the outer feathers; soon as this first note is past, the tail closes and the white marks disappear, to flash out again only with the next repetition of the nest-call, before which there is always a considerable interval.
Forbush (1927) says that “in courtship the male mourning dove sometimes strikes his feet hard on his perch one after another.”
James G. Suthard, speaking of the bird in Kentucky, says in his notes:
During the nesting season, the female acts very much like the tame pigeon. The male prances around with his neck feathers all ruffed up, cooing and billing with the female. I have noticed that he sometimes picks up pieces of grass in hIs courtship antics. The intrusion of another male on one of these scenes results in a fight ~vhereupon the female usually disappears.
Nesting: The mourning dove uses a very wide choice in selecting a site for its nest. Perhaps the site most nearly typical is not far from the trunk on a horizontal branch of an evergreen tree: a pine or cedar: affording a firm foundation for the flimsy nest. The bird frequently nests on the ground, however, even on a clump of grass, sometimes on the stump of a tree, and there are several recorded instances where the nest has been found placed on a wooden ledge attached to an inhabited building. Indeed Gardner (1927) says that the birds in Kansas “preferred the vicinity of buildings to the wooded and secluded canyons of the back country by a ratio of at least ten to one.”
The chief requisite, apparently, is a level support that will give stability to the nest, and to acquire this security the dove often makes use of the experience of another species of bird and builds its own nest on a nest (for example. that of a robin, brown thrasher, or mockingbird) that has weathered the previous winter.
Bendire (1892) cites an extreme instance of this habit. Quoting J. L. Davidson from Forest and Stream, he says:
I found a black-billed cuckoo and a mourning dove sitting together on a robin’s nest. The cuckoo was the first to leave the nest. On securing the nest I found it contained two eggs of the cuckoo, two of the mourning dove, and one robin’s egg. The robin had not quite finished the nest when the cuckoo took possession of It and filled it nearly full of rootlets, but the robin got in and laid one egg.
As a rule a pair of mourning doves, in contrast to the habit of the passenger pigeon, nests well removed from the nests of other doves, but Charles IR. Stockard (1905) reports in Mississippi an interesting exception to this rule. “Doves,” he says, “often nested in small colonies. In a clump of about fifteen young pine trees I once found nine nests, and in an Osage orange hedge about one-half mile long twelve nests were located. But most doves nest singly, or with the nests too far apart to suggest any gregarious nesting habit.”
Most commonly the nest is made of sticks and is lined with finer twigs. A. D. DuBois, however, in his notes records the use of grass, weed stalks, roots, and a lining of leaves and. mentions one nest made “almost entirely of rootlets and stems lined with finer rootlets (a shallow affair) .”
The nest, oftenest, perhaps, just a platform of sticks, but firm enough to withstand usage for 30 days, is made apparently entirely by the female bird. Frank F, Gander in his notes states this to be a fact in the case he describes, and lie demonstrates the aid that the male bird gives to his mate, lie says:
The bringing of the material was accomplished by the male, who flew to the ground and searched about until a suitable stick was fo~fld. In selecting material the male was very careful and tested the sticks by shaking them vigorously. Perhaps this was as much to test his hold upon the stick as to test the stick itself, as many times sticks were shaken from his beak. So much time was consumed in this choosing of a twig that his trips to the nest averaged about one every two minutes. He always approached the nest by the same route, alighting upon a protruding branch, hopping from this to another, and walking along the latter to the nest. Reaching the nest, he turned the material over to the female, who reached up her beak to receive it. Sticks were frequently dropped during this exchange. The female placed the sticks under and about her to construct the nest.
Building did not continue uninterruptedly, as the female frequently left the nest when the male would pursue her and peck at her until she returned. Work for the day was stopped at about 11 a. m. The nest building was taken up again on the following morning and carried on until about 10 a. m.
Continuing, he shows the division of labor during the incubation period of 15 days:
The male took up his duties at the nest at about 10 in the morning and was relieved again at about 3 in the afternoon. The male often left the eggs unguarded for a few minutes about noon while he flew to a near-by watering place to drink.
Margaret M. Nice (1922), referring to the building of the nest, corroborates the observation quoted above. She says:
Nest building as a rule takes place in the early morning. The male mourning dove gathers the materials and carries them to his mate who arranges them. He takes one piece at a time, and if he happens to drop it, he does not stop but continues his journey to the tree an(l then starts over again.
Mrs. Nice’s articles form an exhaustive study of the nesting habits of the mourning dove and contain many statistical data of the utmost interest. Readers are referred to these valuable articles for detailed information.
That the division of labor, with a well-ordered time for relieving each other on the nest, continues through the incubation period and during the 15 days that the young spend in the nest, is shown by the following extracts. Wallace Craig (1911) says: Male and female take regular daily turns in sitting on the eggs or young: the female sits from evening till morning, the male from morning till evening, the exchanges taking place usually about 8.30 a. m. and 4.30 p. m. This arrangement is very regular if there is nothing to disturb the birds; hut If interloping birds come ahout, this arouses the anger of the male and he leaves the nest in order to attack them.
Mrs. Nice’s (1923) experience corroborates Doctor Craig’s observation. She says:
The male incubates and broods during the day while the female does the same during the night, early morning, and late afternoon; and both parents regurgitate “pigeon milk” for the young. Two striking differences between the nest behavior of mourning doves and most passerine birds is the almost constant brooding of the young till near tbe end of the nest life and the lack of any sanitary care of the nest. And further (1922):
As a rule one or the other parent Is continuously on the nest from the time the first egg Is laid until the young are fairly well grown.
I have approached the nest of a mourning dove and come almost within arm’s reach of the bird before it flew quietly away, but there is plenty of evidence that this behavior is not invariable for frequently the bird is reported to flop from the nest and resort to the ruse of the broken wing.
The breeding season is very long; in the Middle States it lasts from May to August and rarely to early September. The birds commonly rear two broods in a season, and Miss A. R. Sherman believes that they probably rear three sometimes. In her notes Miss Sherman says in substance:
The doves are so numerous and so secretive in their ways that it is not possible to say whether a pair of birds, which has nested in May or June, breed again late In June or In July. When a nest is used twice In the same season, however, the assumption is that a pair of birds is using their own nest a second time.
[AUTHOR’S note: On April 19, 1907, while hunting for hawks’ nests in a grove of tall pines, I rapped on a tree containing a likely looking old nest and was surprised to see a mourning dove fly from it. I climbed to it, more than 40 feet up in a white pine, and found it to be an old hawk’s nest, that had since been used by squirrels, as it was full of pine needles and soft rubbish, such as squirrels use. It was quite a large nest, measuring 25 by 15 inches. The doves had scraped out a hollow in the pine needles and laid one egg. I visited the nest ~k un on April 28, when the dove flew off, as before, and the nest held two eggs. I photographed the nest and collected the eggs. As a pair of great-horned owls and a pair of Cooper’s hawks were nesting in these woods, the doves stood a poor chance of raising a brood, or even escaping with their own lives.
Eggs: The mourning dove lays almost always two eggs, but there are a few records of three, or even four. In shape they vary from elliptical oval, the commonest shape, to elliptical ovate or ovate. The shell is smooth with very little gloss. The color is pure white. The measurements of 47 eggs average 28.4 by 21.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 31 by 22, 29.5 by 23, 26 by 20.5, and 28.5 by 20 millimeters.]
Young: The young of the mourning dove are helpless when hatched, and during the two weeks they remain in the nest they require constant care from their parents. They are fed by regurgitation during most of their nest life, but solid food, such as insects and seeds, is gradually substituted, and at the time of leaving the nest it largely replaces the “pigeon milk.” The contents of the crop of a young bird, examined at the end of its nest life, consisted almost entirely of seeds (principally grass seeds) and less than 2 per cent “pigeon milk.” [See Townsend (1906).]
Gabrielson (1922), who studied the nest life from a blind, clearly describes the process of regurgitation thus:
At 7.30 a. m. a squab backed toward the blind and getting from beneath the parent raised its head and mutely begged for food. The adult (presumably the female) responded immediately by opening her beak and allowing the nestling to thrust its beak into one corner of her mouth. She then shut her beak on that of the nestling and after remaining motionless for a short time began a slow pumping motion of the head. The muscles of her throat could he seen to twitch violently at Intervals, continuing about a minute, when the nestling withdrew its beak. The other nestling then inserted its beak and the process was repeated, 15 seconds elapsing before its beak was removed. With intervals varying from 5 to 10 seconds (watch in hand) four such feedings, two to each nestling, occurred. The nestling not being fed was continually trying to insert its beak in that of the parent and at the fifth feeding both succeeded In accomplishing this at the same time. The nestlings’ beaks were inserted from opposite sides of the parent’s mouth and remained in place during the feeding operation although I could not say whether or not both received food. While being fed the nestlings frequently jerked the head from side to side and also followed the motion of the parent’s beak by raising and lowering themselves by the use of the legs. They were not more than five days old but had better use of their muscles than the young of passerine birds at from eight to ten days of age. The entire process described above occupied about six minutes, after which the nestlings crawled back beneath the parent.
Miss A. It. Sherman, who has had ample opportunity to study the mourning dove and a wide experience as a field observer, gives in her notes the period of incubation definitely as 15 days.
Plumages: [AuTnon’s xo~n: The young squab is fat and unattractive, scantily covered with short, white down, through which the yellowish skin shows. The stiff quills of the juvenal plumage soon appear, giving the young bird an ugly, spiny appearance. The juvenal plumage is well developed before the young birds leave the well-filled nest. In this plumage the upper parts are “buffy brown” to “snuff brown,” with faint, whitish edgings on the back and wing coverts; the scapulars and some of the inner wing coverts have large black patches; the underparts are from” pinkish cinnamon “to “light vinaceous-cinnamon,” paler on the belly and grayer on the flanks. A postjuvenal molt of the contour plumage and tail, during fall, produces a first winter plumage, which is like the adult but somewhat duller. Adults have a complete molt in fall.]
Food: Adult mourning doves are essentially seedeaters. Wheat and buckwheat are said to be their favorite grains, but they consume such enormous numbers of weed seeds that they prove to be a highly beneficial species, as the following quotation from Dutcher (1903) shows:
The examination of the contents of 237 stomachs of the dove shows over 99 per cent of its food consists wholly of vegetable matter In the shape of seeds, less than 1 per cent being animal food. Wheat, oats, rye, corn, barley, and buckwheat were found in 150 of the stomachs, and constituted 32 per cent of the total food. However, three-fourths of this amount was waste grain picked up in the fields after the harvesting was over. Of the various grains eaten, xvheat is the favorite, and is almost the only one taken when it is in good condition, and most of this was eaten in the months of July and August. Corn, the second in amount, was all old damaged grain taken from the fields after the harvest, or from roads or stock yards in summer. The principal and almost constant diet, however, is the seeds of weeds. These are eaten at all aeasons of time ycar. In one stomach were found 7,500 seeds of the yellow wood-sorrel (Oxalis atricta), in another, 6,400 seeds of barn grass or fox tail (Chaetocloa).
Wayne (1910) records this interesting observation on the dove’s feeding habits:
Although this species is supposed to feed upon the ground, this is by no means always the case as the birds resort to the pine woods for weeks at a time to feed upon the seeds of these trees, which they obtain by walking out on the limbs and extracting them from the cones. The flesh at this time is very strongly impregnated with a piney flavor.
Behavior: Although mourning doves spend a large part of the year in flocks, they have a strong tendency in spring to separate into pairs and scatter over the country to nest. Doubtless they owe their present status, perhaps even their existence, to this habit, for, had they bred in colonies as the passenger pigeon did, the doves would have been subjected at their nests to the wholesale slaughter that exterminated the pigeon.
As we watch a number of doves feeding in a stubble field we soon see that there is no very strong tie binding together the members of the company: no such bond as holds together a flock of sandpipers and suppresses individual action. The doves are spread out over the ground, each walking off by itself and feeding more or less alone, like grazing cattle. When we walk toward them they start into the air, but not all together; a few, very often only two, fly away; then, after a moment, a few more take flight and go off, very likely in another direction. The flock when alarmed, instead of moving off as a unit, breaks up, and the birds retreat individually or in pairs. Thus even when the doves are assembled in numbers there is a tendency to segregate into pairs: a characteristic of the breeding season.
The birds leave the ground very quickly, gaining speed rapidly with strong, sweeping wing beats and fly with whistling wings, suggesting the whistling flight of the golden-eye.
In eastern Massachusetts, where since 1910 the birds have become well established, they frequent the dry, sandy, sparsely wooded hillsides characteristic of this glaciated country, and retire to nest in the near-by pine woods, where they seem much at home, walking easily among the branches.
Doves often visit gravelly roads and are sometimes seen on the sea beaches. On the dry plains of western Texas (Merriam, 1888) they were found 3 to 5 miles from the nearest water, and Merriam (1890) describes thus the coming of the doves at dusk to drink:
Common from the Desert of the Little Colorado to the upper limit of the pine bolt. Every evening they assemble at the springs and water holes, coming in greatest numbers just at dark, particularly about the borders of the Desert where water is very scarce. On the evening of August 20 we camped for the night at a small spring about 5 miles west of Grand Fails. At dusk hundreds of doves came to drink, and continued coming until It was so dark that they could not be seen.
Voice: The mourning dove takes its name from its common note, a low-toned, moaning coo. This is one of the bird notes that, while fairly loud and perfectly distinct, does not readily attract the attention of one who is not familiar with it. In this respect it resembles the diurnal hooting of the screech owl; both of these notes in some strange way are disregarded by the ear until it is trained to detect them. We then recognize them both as familiar sounds of the countryside.
A. A. Saunders in his notes describes a typical song thus:
The sound is well imitated by a low-pitched whistle, but some birds strike notes lower than I can whistle. The song consists of four notes. The first is usually twice as long in time as the others, and slurred first upward, and then downward. The other three notes are either all on one pitch or slightly slurred downward. Lengths of songs vary from S to 4% seconds. Usually one bird sings a single song and repeats it over and over in just the same manner; but I once recorded five different songs from a single bird.
Craig (1911) has reported the results of an exhaustive study of the bird in confinement. The following are the outstanding features of his article. He describes the song, which he terms the “perch coo ‘essentially as Saunders does, and adds:
When delivering his song, the mourning dove does not perform any dance or gesture, as some birds do. He invariably stands still when cooing; even when he coos in the midst of pursuing the female he stops in the chase, stands immovable until the coo is completed, and then runs on. His attitude is, to be sure, very definite, the neck somewhat arched and the whole body rigid; but the impression it gives oae is, not that the bird is striking an attitude, but that he is simply holding every muscle tense in the effort of a difficult performance.
The female also utters the perch-coo, though less often than the male, and in a thin, weak voice and staccato tones, which, as compared with the mal&s song, form so ludicrous a caricature that on first hearing it I burst out laughing.
To this commonly heard note he adds two others: the nest call of which he says: “This call is much shorter than the song, and much fainter, so that the field observer may fail ever to hear it. Its typical form is of three notes, a low, a high, and a low, thus somewhat resembling the first bar of the song, but differing in that the three notes do not glide into one another, there being a clear break from each note to the next’~; and the copulation note, which “is given by both the male and female, immediately after coition; in the mourning dove it is a faint growling note, repeated two to four times with rests between. So far as I have seen, the mourning doves, throughout the utterance of these sounds, keep the bill wide open.”
Field marks: The mourning dove in the field appears as a long, slim, gray-brown bird with small, nodding head, whistling wings, and long, pointed tail. The sparrow hawk resembles the dove very closely in flight, but it has strong, heavy shoulders, a larger head, and squarely tipped tail. The little ground dove of the Southern States is instantly distinguished from the mourning dove by its stumpy tail and the flash of bright color under the wing.
Enemies: Ilarold C. Bryant (1926) speaks thus of the dove’s enemies:
Apart from man, the dove has other enemies. The duck hawk is swift enough to overtake the dove, and this bird is probably the dove’s most dreaded avian foe. Other predatory species take a toll during the nesting season. Its rapid flight frequently brings the dove in violent contact with telephone wires, and many birds die annually from this cause. Rodent-poisoning operations have in recent years been responsible for the death of many doves; for, unlike the quail, the mourning dove and the band-tailed pigeon are both susceptible to strychnine.
C. S. Thompson (1901) notes a very long tapeworm wound round and round in the intestines of an emaciated bird, and Lloyd (1887), writing of the bird in western Texas, speaks of owls as enemies in winter, “when they frequently change their roosting place, as a friend (Mr. Loomis) suggests, in consequence of being disturbed by the numerous owls.”
The cowbird not infrequently selects the dove as a host for its young.
Game: Bryant (1926) shows why, aside from its desirability as a table delicacy, the dove is a popular game bird, affording a rapidly moving target that demands the utmost skill on the part of the hunter. He says:
Unless favorably located near a watering place, one bird in three or four shots makes a good average for all but the most experienced hunter. The small size and great speed make the bird a difficult target. The variety of shots possible is almost endless. Quartering and side shots are most difficult because of the speed of the birds in flight. Then come shots at towering er descending birds, often dependent on whether they are coming or going. The easier straight-away shots are to be expected less often in dove shooting than in quail shooting.
Thus it will be seen that dove hunting gives the best of practice to the lover of wing shooting. No finer test of skill is afforded unless it be in snipe shooting.
Fall and winter: In regions where mourning doves are common, they begin to resume their gregarious habits soon after the breeding season is over.
J. A. Spurrell (1917), speaking of the bird in Iowa, says: From the latter part of July until the doves depart on their fall migration in late October they select common roosting places, one of which happens to be our orchard. Toward sunset the doves visit some place to drink and then fly to the roosting place from all directions until between five and six hundred are roosting there. They depart again just as it becomes light in the morning. spending the day far away in pastures and grain fields. During the month of August they may be commonly found about salt troughs for cattle, seeming to eat the salt.
Stockard (1905) speaks thus of the dove’s habit of roosting in Mississippi, where they remain during the winter:
Late in summer they begin roosting in company, and many hundreds come about sunset to their chosen place for the night. During this season they are shot in large numbers while flying to the hedge or small wood that has been selected as a roosting place.
Throughout the winter in the Southern States we see the doves, in companies of a dozen or more, feeding quietly in the stubble and pea fields, from which, as we approach, they flush rather wildly and, scattering, retreat in twos and threes beyond the surrounding pine trees.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: A comprehensive and interesting study of the fall migration of the mourning dove has been published recently by William B. Taber, jr. (1930), to which the reader is referred. F. C. Lincoln (1930) proves the migratory status of the mourning doves from evidence obtained from returns from banded birds.]
Range: Norrh America, Central America, and the West Indies.
Breeding range: The mourning dove breeds north to British Columbia (Chilliwack and Okanagan Landing); Saskatchewan (Qu’Appelle); Manitoba (Aweme, Portage la Prairie, and Winnipeg); Michigan (Newberry, Mackinac Island, Hiliman, and Zion) Ontario (Sarnia, Plover Mills, Guelph, Toronto, and Brighton) Vermont (Burlington); and New Hampshire (Concord and Hampton Falls). East to New Hampshire (Hampton Falls and Seabrook); Massachusetts (Boxford, Boston, North Truro, and Woods Hole); New York (Shelter Island and Yaphank); New Jersey (Red Bank, Spring Lake, and Sea Isle City); Delaware (Lincoln); Maryland (Cambridge); Virginia (Wallops Island and Spottsville); North Carolina (Beaufort and Fort Macon); South Carolina (Wayerly Mills, Mount Pleasant, St. James Island, and Hilton Head); Georgia (Savannah, MacIntosh, Cumberland, and St. Marys); Florida (St. Augustine, Fruitland Park, Longwood, and Fort Myers); the Bahamas (Abaco Island. Eleuthera Island, Long Island, and Bird Rock); and Haiti (Monte Cristi, La Vega, Mahiel, and San Cristobal). South to Haiti (San Cristobal and Port au Prince); Cuba (Trinidad, La Ceiba, and McKinley); and central Mexico (Aquas Calientes and Las Penas). West to Mexico (Las Penas and probably San Bias); Lower California (Comondu, San Quintin Bay, and probably Todos Santos Island); California (San Clemente Island, Santa Catalina Island, Santa. Cruz Island, San Francisco. Napa, Cahto, and Eureka); Oregon (Elkton, Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland); Washington (Yakima, Seattle, and Bellingham); and British Columbia (Chilliwack).
Winter range: In winter doves are found with regularity north to California (San Geronimo); central Arizona (Fort Verde); Colorado (Navajo Springs and Pueblo); Nebraska (Lincoln); Iowa (Wiota, Ames, and Sabula); Illinois (Rantoul); Indiana (Camden); southern Michigan (Manchester); Ohio (Oberlin and Cleveland); Pennsylvania (Philadelphia); and New Jersey (Morristown and Englewood). East to New Jersey (Englewood and Newfield); Virginia (Wallops Island and Bowershill); Bermuda; North Caro lina (Raleigh and New Bern) ; South Carolina (Summerville, Charleston, and Beaufort); Georgia (Savannah and Darien); Florida (Daytona, Titusville, St. Lucie, and Royal Palm Hammock); the Bahamas (Abaco Island, Eleuthera Island, Long Island, and Bird Rock); Haiti (Monte Cristi, La Vega, and San Cristobal); and Panama (Calobre). South to Panama (Calobre and Volcano de Chiriqui); Costa Rica (Azahar de Cartago and San Jose); Guatemala (Duenas and Quezaltenango); Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); Jalisco (Zapotlan); and Lower California (La Laguna). West to Lower California (La Laguna and Triunfo); and California (Santa Barbara, Paicines, Gilroy, San Francisco, and San Geronimo).
In addition to this normal winter range, individuals or small numbers of mourning doves will occasionally spend the winter north almost to the limits of the breeding range. Among such cases are: British Columbia (Okanagan Landing); Idaho (Emmett and Gray); Minnesota (Lanesboro) ; Wisconsin (Beloit); Ontario (Plover Mills) ; New York (Rochester and Rhinebeck); and Massachusetts (Danvers and Barnstable).
The range as described is for the entire species, which has, however, been divided into several races. True macroura is restricted to the Greater Antilles, although occurring in winter along the coast of Central America. It has no record in North America. The eastern mourning dove (Zenaidura m. carolinensis) occurs from the Atlantic seaboard west to the eastern edge of the Great Plains. It is found also in the Bahamas and on the Gulf and Caribbean coasts of Mexico and Central America. The western mourning dove (Z. m. marginella) occupies the territory from the Great Plains to the Pacific coast, and south through Mexico to Panama.
Spring migration: Early dates of spring arrival are: New York, Orient, March 1; Canandaigua, March 4; Hamburg, March 6; Ithaca, March 8; Buffalo, March 9; Rochester, March 14; and Rhinebeck, March 23; Connecticut, Fairfield, March 10; Jewett City, March 12; Norwalk, March 14, New Haven, March 18; Hadlyme, March 21; and Saybrook, March 26; Rhode Island, Providence, March 31. Massachusetts, Harvard, March 12; Taunton, March 12; Amherst, March 1’l; Somerset, March 21; and Danvers, March 29; Vermont, Rutland, April 4; Castleton, April 8; Bennington, April 10; and Wells River, April 13; New Hampshire, Charlestown, April 14; Manchester, April 16; and Concord, April 20; Maine, Bucksport, March 21; Popham Beach, March 30; and Machias, April 6; Ontario, Port Dover, March 9; Point Pelee, March 17; London, March 17; Brighton, March 19; Harrow, March 20; Preston, March 24; and Guelph, March 25; Wisconsin, Janesville, March 10; Beloit, March 16; Prairie du Sac, March 18; Milwaukee, March 20; North Freedom, March 21; Madison, March 22, and Menomonie, March 23; Minnesota, Redwing, March 12; Lanesboro, March 15; Hutchinson, March 23; St. Cloud, March 24, Elk River, March 25; and Wilder, March 26; South Dakota, Yankton, March 14; Vermilion, March 23; Sioux Falls, March 25; and Dell Rapids, March 28; North Dakota, Fargo, March 18; Bismarck, April 3; Larimore, April 5; Wahpeton, April 6; and Grand Forks, April 12; Manitoba, Margaret, April 7; Aweme, April 8; Treesbank, April 10; and Pilot Mound, April 21; Saskatchewan, Eastend, April 23; Indian Head, April 29; Muscow, May 4; and Wiseton, May 16. Utah, Clinton, April 18, and Salt Lake, April 26; Wyoming, Sheridan, April 13; Cheyenne, April 17; and Yellowstone Park, May 9; Idaho, Deer Flat, April 3; Meridian, April 6; and Pocatello, April 22; Montana, Knowlton, April 25; Bozeman, April 26; Corvallis, April 29; and Billings, May 3; Alberta, Banif, May 24; Nevada, Carson City, April 23; Oregon, Albany, March 18; Beaverton, March 30; Portland, March 30; and Mulino, April 15; Washington, North Yakima, March 21; Camas, April 7; and Pullman, April 16; and British Columbia, Okanagan Landing, April 20; Burrard Inlet, May 7; and Edgewood, May 15. Fall nm,i gration~: L ate dates of fall departure are: British Columbia, Chilliwack, October 2; Courtenay, October 9; and Okanagan Landing, November 8; Washington, Tacoma, October 1, and Pull. man, October 2; Oregon, Cold Spring Bird Reservation, October 14, and Portland, November 19; Nevada, Winnemucca, September 9; Alberta, Red Deer River, September 15; Montana, Bozeman, October 2, and Glacier Park, October 30; Idaho, Minidoka, September 29, and Meridian, November 4; Wyoming, Yellowstone Park, October 2, and Sundance, October 4; Utah, Clinton, September 10; Saskatchewan, Eastend. September 15, and Indian Head, October 1; Manitoba, Killarney, October 14; Ninette, October 15; Aweme, October 19; and Margaret, October 20; North Dakota, Harrisburg, October 11; Inkster, October 14; Fargo, October 15; and Grafton, November 12; South Dakota, Wall Lake, October 13; Harrison, October 18; and Rapid City, October 24; Minnesota, Hutchinson, October 22; Twin Valley, October 25; Elk River, October 26; and Minneapolis, November 10; Wisconsin, Delavan, October 31; Shiocton, November 4; Trempealeau, November 17; Menomonie, November 20; Elkhorn, November 22; and Meridian, November 23; Ontario, Guelph, November 3; Port Dover, November 4; Plover Mills, November 14; Harrow, November 21; Windsor, November 27; and Point Pelee, December 4; Maine, Gorham, September 26; Mount Desert, October 16; and Machias, November 10; Vermont, Bennington, September 1; Massachusetts, Harvard, October 12; Lunenburg, October 22; Amherst, October 28; Braintree, November 7; and Marthas Vineyard, November 21; Rhode Island, Block Island, October 22, and South Auburn, November 20; Connecticut, Fairfield, October 12; Meriden, October 20; Hartford, October 24; New Haven, October 30; and Portland, November 30; and New York, Rochester, October 5; Rhinebeck, October 6; Geneva, October 12; Collins, October 19; and Howard, October 24.
From the fact that mourning doves winter so far north it might be assumed that they do not have an extensive migration. The returns from banded birds, however, indicate that the majority of these birds move in winter well to the south. For example, one banded at Wauwatosa, Wis., on June 6, 1929, was shot in Dale County, Ala., on January 3, 1930, and another banded at Madison, Wis., on April 12, 1929, was recovered at Jennings, La., on December 2, 1929.
The region from Texas east to Georgia is the favored winter home of the species. Eight birds banded at points in Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio were retaken in Texas; 7 banded in Illinois and Indiana were shot in Louisiana; 10 banded in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio were recovered in northern Florida; 4 banded in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio were shot in Alabama; and 14 banded in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were recovered in Georgia. (See Lincoln, 1930.)
Casual records: Casual occurrences of the mourning dove have been chiefly north of the regular range, where it appears they may sometimes breed. Two young barely able to fly were noted on the Stikine River, Alaska, by Willett, who also records one from Hydaburg, Prince of Wales Island, on September 1, 1926, and one taken at Sitka, Alaska, on September 114, 1912. Kermode (1913) records a specimen from Telegraph Creek, British Columbia. There are several records for Quebec, among which are: Godbout, October 10, 1881, and June 6, 1882; once at St. Joachim (date ?), and one in the fall of 1887 near Quebec City (Dionne). Newfoundland has one record on October 16, 1890, but there are a few others on the Labrador coast: Spotted Islands, October 17, 1912; Battle Harbor, October 20, 1912; and Red Bay, September 7, 1891. The species has been recorded from New Brunswick at Fredericton, October 14, 1899; Hampton, June, 1880; Rothesay, September 30, 1881; and Milkish, October 17, 1881.
Egg dates: Southern New England and New York: 20 records, April 6 to August 8; 10 records, May 20 to June 15. New Jersey and Pennsylvania: 72 records, April 6 to July 8; 36 records, April 26 to May 29. Florida: 10 records, March 11 to July 10. Michigan to the Dakotas: 18 records, April 27 to August 9; 9 records, May 14 to June 5. Indiana to Iowa: 58 records, April 4 to September 1; 29 records, April 30 to June 7. Texas: 89 records, February 20 to September 24; 45 records, April 21 to May 28. Arizona and New Mexico: 54 records, April 1 to September 2; 27 records, May 1 to June 6. California: 170 records (every month but October and November)~ January 18 to December 5; 85 records, May 6 to June 19.
ZENAIDURA MACROURA MARGINELLA (Woodhouse)
WESTERN MOURNING DOVE [Current A.O.U. = Mourning Dove]
The habits of the western mourning dove are so much like those of the eastern race that there is very little to be added to the excellent life history of the latter contributed by Doctor Tyler.
The western race ranges from Manitoba and Oklahoma westward. Being largely an inhabitant of the open plains and more arid regions, it averages slightly paler in coloration, with the upper parts more grayish, and slightly larger than the eastern race.
Courtship: F rank F. Gander has noted some aggressiveness on the part of the female, on which he has sent me the following notes:
On April 7, 1927, I watched a pair of doves mate. The male flew to a bare limb and was closely followed by the female, who pressed close to him and reached up with her beak as if begging for food. She also fluttered her wings a little and squatted low to the branch. The male seemed inattentive at first, but gradually began to pay more attention, billing with her as if feeding, but there was none of the straining of regurgitation. After a few moments of this, with the female continuing to beg and remaining in a squatting posture, the act of copulation took place. The wings of the male were slightly raised and used to maintain his balance. After matIng, there was no strutting flight as in the pigeon, but the two bIrds calmly resumed their respective places on the limb and, beyond a slight craning of necks and peering about, showed no signs of having been affected. In a few moments the female again mnde advanecs toward her mate and the billing took place, hut the act of mating was not repeated before the bIrds flew away.
Nesting: Mr. Gander has found nests as high as 40 feet in cottonwood and eucalyptus trees, and he says in his notes:
Many years ago I found a set of eggs on a piece of loose bark that had become lodged in the branches of a large tree. The only additions to this site were two sticks, which were crossed, and the eggs were In the angle thus formed. In southern CalifornIa, especially, the doves use a nest over and over again, and as some additional material is carried before each set of eggs, it often grows to a rather substantial nest.
On April 27, 1927, I saw an adult dove brooding a set of two eggs In the same nest with a well-grown young one. I have observed this on other occasions hut have no further data.
George Finlay Simmons (1925) says that in Texas the nest is placed “rarely on leaning corn-stalks, rail fences, tops of rock fences, or ledges in cliffs. Occasionally old nests of the gray-tailed cardinal or the western mockingbird are repaired and used; one bird with eggs was found occupying an old nest of the Audubon caracara.”
Eggs: The 2 eggs, rarely 1 or 3, of the western mourning dove are pure white like those of the eastern bird. The measurements of 48 eggs average 28 by 20.9 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 31 by 21.5, 30 by 22, and 25 by 19.5 millimeters.
Behavior: Simmons (1925) writes:
In desert country, from Austin westward, water holes arid the cool shade of the narrowly timbered prairie creeks can be located by watching during mid-day the direct lines of flight of the swiftly moving doves, which come from miles across the prairie, since they frequently nest a long distance from water. Hunters make use of this water-seeking habit of the doves by hiding near a water hole at dawn or dusk and shooting the birds as they drop in to water preparatory to leaving or roosting in the nearby trees where they spend the night.