Over the past 6 months I have watched mourning doves survive in our unforgiving desert environment. Following the quails, mourning doves have begun to mimic their behavior.
I’ve witnessed mourning doves out fly and out maneuver various hawks. Always learning, mourning doves are honor roll students of the Sonoran Desert.
Male mourning doves are bigger than females but their color is very similar. The difference between male and female mourning doves:
- Males have a bluish-gray crown; along with a rose color on the breast.
- Male mourning doves can have an iridescent patch on the neck area.
- Females have a grayish brown crown and a brownish tan breast area.
Mourning doves successfully live in arid areas because they have no problem traveling several miles for water. Their diet consists of mostly dry seeds; therefore, they must have water daily. Mourning doves drink faster than other birds which helps them avoid predators who stay by available water.
Baby mourning doves, SQUABS, have a white patch under the eye which you can see in the photo above.
Mourning doves eat enough to fill their crops and then find a comfortable location to digest. What is a crop? A crop is part of the digestive tract that acts as a storage bag to hold food until it can be processed by the body.
When a mourning dove feeds in the open it must be careful of predators; therefore, it will gobble up seeds as fast as it can. The food fills up in the bird’s crop and the mourning dove hurries to safety for digestion.
What is preening? When a bird grooms its feathers it is called preening.
This short video below shows a male and female mourning dove preening each other. It is a lovely dove behavior to witness.
Young mourning doves are darker than adults and have a white patch under the eye. A mourning dove will reach maturity in approximately 3 months. Mortality rate for young mourning doves is high. On average the life span of a mourning dove is 1-3 years which is mostly due to disease and starvation. Currently we have 70 or so mourning doves we feed daily.