do doves eat other birds

The melancholy sound rings out across North America: coo-AHH, cooo, coo, cooo. It’s this familiar, wistful song that gives the Mourning Dove its name (and sometimes gets mistaken for an owl’s hoot). Mourning Doves, with their plump, brownish-gray bodies and long, pointy tails, are a common sight across the continent, living year-round from Mexico up to southern Canada across much of the United States. These birds—like their cousins, the Rock Pigeons—are often found near humans, whether gobbling up seeds under a feeder, perching on a telephone wire, or building a nest in a questionable location. Read on to learn more about this beloved neighborhood bird.

1) The species’ scientific name, Zenaida macroura, is also an ID hint: “macroura” comes from the Greek words for “long tail.” The Mourning Dove’s tail—slender, tapered, and with white-tipped outer feathers—offers a key clue to tell it apart from its cousins like the Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove, whose tails end in square tips.

2) Notoriously skittish, Mourning Doves make a sharp whistling sound when they take flight. The noise doesn’t come from their beaks, though—it’s actually made by their wings as air rushes through their feathers and causes them to vibrate. The sound can also serve as an alarm bell: Researchers have found that playing recorded wing-whistles from startled doves can spur other birds to take off, too.

3) These doves are not dainty eaters. When they find a food source—preferably, a bunch of seeds on the ground—they’ll quickly grab as much as they can manage, storing their haul in a throat pouch called the crop. Then, they’ll fly off to a safe spot to work on digesting. On average, Mourning Doves will eat about 12 to 20 percent of their body weight every day; one champion eater was recorded racking up 17,200 bluegrass seeds in its crop at once.

4) When you hear a Mourning Dove’s familiar cooing, the song is almost always coming from a male looking for a mate. Males will claim a favorite “cooing perch,” a prominent spot where they can catch the attention of females with their songs. They’ll even defend their favorite singing sites from other males who try to land there.

5) Mourning Doves are known for building their nests fast and flimsy. After a pair picks a site, the males will bring back twigs and stems for the females to weave into a loose pile—often so loose that you can see the eggs through the bottom. And they’re not very picky about location: While doves often seek out trees or shrubs, they’re just as likely to nest in flower pots, cacti, or air conditioners. (There’s even an entire Reddit group dedicated to the surprising—and often silly—places doves will nest.)

6) Seasonally monogamous, Mourning Doves are prolific breeders. In warm climates, a couple can raise as many as six broods in a single year. The female lays two white eggs at a time and will trade off incubation duties with her partner for the two weeks it takes them to hatch.

7) In the first few days of a young Mourning Dove’s life, both parents will feed chicks what’s known as “crop milk” or “pigeon milk”—a nutrient-rich substance with a texture like cottage cheese. The so-called milk is secreted by cells in the crop, then regurgitated up into a tasty meal for baby doves, which are also called squabs. While this feeding strategy is shared across the pigeon and dove family, only a handful of other birds use “milk” to feed their young, including flamingos and penguins. And the stuff packs a nutritional punch: Researchers found that when they fed crop milk to baby chickens instead of their usual diet, it boosted their growth and immune systems.

8) Around the feeder, science shows that Mourning Doves are, well, kind of chill. Researchers analyzed feeder interactions reported by bird watchers across the country to see which species were the most dominant. They found that, while bigger birds generally came out on top during squabbles, Mourning Doves ranked lower than expected despite their bulky size. Warblers and Downy Woodpeckers, meanwhile, proved surprisingly feisty and ranked toward the top. (Still, Mourning Doves did hold their own against some rivals in the feeder wars.)

9) The Mourning Dove is one of North America’s most adaptable species, thriving in a wide range of habitats from coast to coast. Preferring open areas like farmland, parks, and backyards over dense forest, these doves can also tough it out in harsh habitats like the Southwest desert, where their ability to drink brackish, or slightly salty, water—up to around half the salinity of seawater—without getting dehydrated gives them an advantage.

10) Mourning Doves, along with the rest of the pigeon and dove family, are some of the rare bird species that can suck up liquid through their beaks like a straw, instead of having to tilt their heads back and let gravity do the work. The birds seem to pump their tongues like pistons to create a suction process like a vacuum pump, according to a 1982 paper that took X-ray videos of pigeons to figure out how they drink. This method lets doves drink quickly, minimizing the time they may be vulnerable to predators.

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What can you feed Mourning Doves?

Even though some of your favorite feeder species might disappear during the summer, you can easily attract Mourning Doves to your feeder to have a snack. Almost any premium wild bird food blend will include some of their favorites:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracked corn
  • Peanuts
  • Millet

Mourning Doves are granivores

In contrast to other summertime songbirds, mourning doves are not attracted to insects, spiders, or other creepy-crawlies. They are almost entirely herbivorous, consuming grains, seeds from wild grasses, weeds, and herbs. 20%E2%80%99 They’ll also grab the occasional berry or snail.

8) Research indicates that Mourning Doves near the feeder are, well, kind of chill Researchers determined which species were the most prevalent by examining feeder interactions that bird watchers nationwide had reported. They discovered that, despite their bulky size, mourning doves ranked lower than anticipated in disputes where larger birds typically prevailed. Conversely, warblers and downy woodpeckers ranked highly and demonstrated unexpected ferocity. (However, in the feeder wars, Mourning Doves managed to hold their own against some competitors.) ).

All over North America, the somber sound can be heard: coo-AHH, cooo, coo, cooo. The Mourning Dove gets its name from this well-known, melancholic song (which is occasionally misheard for an owl’s hoot). With their plump, brownish-gray bodies and long, pointed tails, mourning doves are a common sight throughout the continent. They can be seen all year round in much of the United States, from Mexico to southern Canada. These birds are frequently seen close to people, just like their cousins the Rock Pigeons. They can be seen eating seeds from feeders, perching on telephone wires, or constructing nests in dubious places. Read on to learn more about this beloved neighborhood bird.

6) Seasonally monogamous, Mourning Doves are prolific breeders. A couple can raise up to six broods in a single year in warm climates. During the two weeks it takes for the eggs to hatch, the female will alternate incubation responsibilities with her partner after laying two white eggs at a time.

The scientific name of the species, Zenaida macroura, also provides an ID hint: the word “macroura” is derived from the Greek words meaning “long tail.” The Mourning Dove can be distinguished from its relatives, such as the Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove, by its tail, which is tapered, slender, and has outer feathers with white tips.

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FAQ

Are doves aggressive birds?

Generally, mourning doves are quite peaceful but under certain circumstances will become aggressive.

Do doves drive away other birds?

Since they are such large birds they also typically dominate feeders in great numbers and discourage smaller birds.

What is the natural predator of doves?

Because it nests and feeds on the ground, the Common Ground-Dove lives in constant danger of predation from terrestrial animals like bobcats, opossums, raccoons, skunks, foxes, dogs, cats, and snakes. Birds hunt it too, including crows, jays, blackbirds, owls, hawks, falcons, and shrikes.

Is it good to have doves in your yard?

They are also often considered romantic and loving. Doves can be helpful in the yard by cleaning up beneath seed feeders or feasting on weed seeds. Most doves are also year-round residents, making them familiar guests throughout the seasons even when other birds have migrated.