Mourning Doves are building their nest

It is spring and the male mourning dove labors hard to set up his territory.   When this male bird is ready to mate, he circles in a courtship flight and chases other doves from the area he desires to nest.

To attract a female mourning dove, this determined handsome bird perches in an open area and sings a “passionate” coo sound that is louder than his usual call.

difference of male and female doves
Male Mourning Dove

The Coooo bird call is mostly voiced by the male mourning dove and not the female. Once he has charmed a mate, the doves pair for life.

To hear the dove’s coooOOO sound, click on the short YouTube video below:

Doves mate primarily from spring to fall but are able to mate year round and produce several clutches of young.  These love birds are tranquil and elegant. 
doves birds mate
Mourning Doves seem to be the true love birds
  **Unfortunately, the Mourning Dove Nest can hardly be called a “nest” – generally these beautiful birds just throw a few twigs somewhere and begin setting up their flimsy nest.
tan bird with spots
dove nest on our porch

The nest is constructed over the course of 2-4 days with the male and female mourning doves working together.

bird nest with 2 eggs
mourning dove nest with 2 white eggs

With a hanging basket on our porch, it didn’t take long before a couple of mourning doves took up residence.  AKA Turtle Doves have been known to reuse the same nest over and over. Commonly raising 2 – 3 broods per season.  Researchers found that the basics for constructing the bird nest are mainly instinctive, but birds can improve their skills with experience.

flimsy bird nest with twigs and white eggs
when do the 2 dove eggs hatch?

So, you spotted a dove’s nest with two milky white eggs.  When will the dove eggs hatch?  The incubation period for Mourning Dove eggs is 14-15 days. Then another 2 weeks for the squabs to leave the nest.

One white egg is laid in the evening, and the female dove lays the second egg in the morning.

dove bird nest two eggs
Mourning Dove’s Nest with 2 white eggs

The day shift is handled by the male dove and the female incubate during the night shift.  If you do not see the doves change shifts, it can seem that the same dove has been on the nest the entire time. 

***In our experience, we have seen the male and female doves change places around sunrise and sunset.

The dove chick, “hatchling”, squab pictured below is one day old.  Both eyes on the newborn bird are closed.

one day old baby bird
a newborn baby dove is called a squab
two baby birds in a nest
2 to 3 day old dove newborn

Males and female doves work together to feed their newborns crop milk or “pigeon milk” for the first few days of their life. The dove’s Crop Milk is rich in fat and protein.  Adult mourning doves secrete the milk and regurgitate it to their little ones.

The dove parent opens its mouth wide permitting the nestling to stick its head inside to feed on the nutritious food.

mourning dove in the nest
The Male dove daddy caring for his squab

How do you tell if the male or female dove is in the nest?

With a trained eye you will be able to tell the difference.  Male Mourning Doves have a bluish crown and nape, and a rose wash to the throat and breast.  The crown and nape of the female dove is grayish brown, and the throat and breast has a brown or tan wash.

dove nest with 3 birds
female mourning dove with her squabs
Mourning Dove Nestlings will fledge in about 12-14 days. The bird parents continue to care for the dove fledglings for about another 16-20 days.

**Please NOTE:   Doves are more flighty than other birds and may abandon the eggs or nest if you bother them too much.

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My best Mourning Dove photos so far…

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.

Mourning Dove Arizona Gambel's Quail desert
Mourning Dove with Gambel’s Quail

I’ve witnessed mourning doves out fly and out maneuver various hawks.  Always learning, mourning doves are honor roll students of the Sonoran Desert.

Tucson Phoenix birds Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove in Arizona
Tucson mourning dove birds Turtle Dove
mourning doves in a palo verde tree
larger male dove bluish eye bird
male mourning dove, Turtle Dove

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.
Arizona birds Turtle Doves
Mourning Dove in Arizona Desert
dove birds drinking water
mourning dove after a rain storm

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.

dove squabs male and female dove
baby mourning doves 8 – 10 days old in nest

Baby mourning doves, SQUABS,  have a white patch under the eye which you can see in the photo above.

doves in Tucson Phoenix birds blue eyes
mourning dove photos
doves eating with full crop
mourning dove with his crop

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.

dove birds in Tucson Phoenix
mourning dove getting ready to preen itself

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.

doves with white marks brown color birds
young morning dove squabs juvenile

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.

The difference between male and female mourning doves – Baby doves 17 days old – Part 4

Now 17 days old.  The mourning dove babies, also called turtle dovesare out of the nest and on their own.  You have journeyed with me and the mourning doves, Jack and Jill, from the egg until today.  Since the day the doves hatched, one was bigger and more alert.  This wide eyed dove is named Jack.  He is a bold, tenacious male mourning dove that was out of the nest in only 11 days, see the photo below.

mourning dove hatchling babies
male & female baby mourning doves – 11 days old

Male mourning doves are bigger than the females.  Jack took his first practice flight to settle on the Mandevilla Trellis.

baby dove just left the nest
our baby mourning dove in the Mandevilla Vine

Jill the female baby dove was smaller and took another 3 days to become strong enough to fly from the nest.  She would perch and at times peek over the nest to watch the activity in the Arizona garden below.

11 day old mourning dove in the nest
baby mourning dove, Jill, in the nest watching her brother

Mom and Dad mourning doves were watchful and on guard in the garden.  Dad did the day shift for the feedings of his baby girl.  Most of the time this little chick was left alone in the nest.   Mom would arrive for the evening to stay in the nest and keep Jill safe through the night.

adult male mourning dove
adult male mourning dove

Males are bigger than females but their color is very similar.  To tell the difference between male and female mourning doves – look at the father in the photo above. Males have a bluish-grey crown; along with a rose color on the breast. Male mourning doves can have an iridescent patch on the neck area also.  Females have a grayish brown crown and a brownish tan breast area.

male and female morning doves
mourning doves showing love

Jill was sitting on the fence by herself and daddy flew over to greet her with a kiss.  This little mourning dove was having a harder time with flying and was so happy to have her dad nearby.

gambel's quail
a gambel’s quail and young mourning dove

Jill is sharing thistle seed with a Gambel’s Quail.  This 17 day old female mourning dove had a harder time getting out of the nest but she is assertive and makes friends easily!

young male mourning dove
young male mourning dove

Jack in the photo above is 17 days old and a king around the neighborhood.  We live in the middle of the southern Arizona desert and I wanted to make sure these young mourning doves had plenty of seed to continually grow strong; therefore I put feeders and seed all over our property!  Jack and Jill share visits with us from sunrise to sunset.

At night the mourning doves find a safe place to roost like a mesquite tree or rooftop and go to sleep.

girl and boy adult mourning dove
difference between male and female mourning doves

Mom and dad (who is the one standing tall), are in the photo above.  This is a perfect picture to see the bluish color on the adult male mourning dove’s head.

I have observed mourning doves everyday for almost 2 months; the more I learn, it is clear that these not-so common mourning doves have their own unique personalities and a true caring for one another.

Mourning Doves are vigilant parents – baby, mourning dove feeding – Part 2

The mourning dove babies are six days old.  I have been blessed to watch the dove parents safeguard and feed their hatchlings.  Think me silly or emotional?  Doesn’t matter.  If all human moms and dads were as attentive to their young as mourning doves, this world would be a better place.  With all due respect to the mourning doves, I will give short recaps of the hatchlings days.

Eyes still shut unaware of a new life…  See previous post, below, of newborn dove babies.

http://tjsgarden.com/2012/08/05/mourning-doves-eggs-hatching-baby-chicks-incubation-feeding/

hanging planter as dove nest
doves nest in the hanging planter

A male and a female mourning dove, turtle dove, found love in southern Arizona.  Their courtship includes the paired doves grooming each other’s feathers.  Later, the male takes his mate to potential locations for a nest.

Arizona sun can be very hot but no worries, the female Mourning Dove chooses the best nest site.  The male dove travels about, gathering material like twigs & grass to bring to the female for building the nest.

Our female mourning dove chose the top hanging basket on our front porch to lay her 2 white eggs.

Both parents incubate and nurse their squabs, nestlings.  The mom and dad take turns so perfectly as if to synchronize their watches.

new born baby doves
baby mourning doves

This new life of four days;  knowing nothing of this earth. Brother where are we?  What do we do?

Sister, just be.  Just be.  “Love will bring us health allowing us to grow and become strong.”

No worries sister, love is coming.

mourning dove feeding babies
daddy dove taking the day shift in the nest

I took the above picture through a window because I do not want to do anything that will scare the dove parents.  Mourning doves will abandon a nest and babies is they feel threatened.

Daddy mourning dove arrives in the early morning to relieve mom and take the day shift.  The male dove arrives approximately 7am and does the later switch with mom about 5pm.

Mourning Doves eat mostly seeds, but the young are fed crop milk from their parents.

What is the food the female dove feeds to her babies?  Mourning dove birds have an extra lining, called a crop or croup,  that is near the throat.  The dove’s food is temporarily stored in the crop before digestion.

In Mourning Doves the secretion in the lining of the crop produces crop milk that is regurgitated for the young doves.

mom mourning dove
female mourning dove watching her nest

While dad is babysitting the two youngsters and tidying up the nest, mom keeps a watchful eye across the garden.

Mrs. Mourning Dove tries several locations in the yard until she finds the perfect area to have full view of her cherished family.

A male white winged dove landed on the ground and the female mourning dove turned into SUPER MOM.  In a split second and without fear she flew down to defend her territory.

Female Mourning Doves are much smaller than White Winged Doves especially the male dove birds.  I let the dogs out to scare the intruder away.  The mourning doves and our dogs seem to have a mutual respect for one another.

mourning doves 4 days old
dove hatchlings in their nest

One of the squabs, dove babies, is bigger and more alert.  Hopefully it is a male, female difference?   I yearn for these young mourning doves to be healthy and strong enough to survive.   These newborns deserve an opportunity to experience their life and God’s creation.  xxoo

Part 3 is in the making…..   stay tuned!!!

Mourning Dove eggs are hatching, dove eggs incubation period, feeding baby doves – Part 1

How long does it take for dove eggs to hatch?  The incubation period for dove eggs is 14-15 days.  Then another 2 weeks for the baby dove chicks to leave the nest.

The dove chicks, hatchlings, squabs pictured below are one day old, both eyes are closed.

baby dove chicks hatched eggs
baby dove squabs in nest, closed eyes

I’m a proud Auntie!  We have been very quiet so as – NOT to startle the mourning dove away from her nest.  Last time these mourning doves made their nest I was too involved and sadly scared them away leaving the eggs in the nest abandoned.  I felt horrible.

baby morning dove nest
newborn doves 1 day old squabs, Turtle Doves
mourning dove hatchlings turtle dove nest
mourning dove hatchlings, opened eyes

The one day dove hatchlings opened their eyes.  The female dove left very early this morning so I was able to snap a couple quick photos before the male dove comes to take the day shift. This bird family will get their privacy and no disturbances from us, so the squabs will be taken care of by mom and dad dove.

squabs in bird nest
baby mourning dove nest

Why do doves abandon their nest? Nest abandonment is very common with Mourning Doves.  If a dove feels any threat from predators whether human or animal, the dove may go elsewhere, abandoning both eggs and babies.

Below is a short video showing how to feed a baby mourning dove that was rescued.  I educated myself and am prepared just in case I have to feed or care for these hatchlings.

If you find an abandoned bird it is best to take it to a wildlife sanctuary. Baby birds can be hand-fed and raised until they can be released back to the wild.

The mourning dove’s nest in the photo is in our Arizona garden.

Mourning Dove Eggs – Mrs. Dove has made her nest – also called Turtle Doves

This lovely mourning dove has been building her nest in the same place for several years. The male dove carries twigs to the female dove who then weaves a flimsy nest of grass stems and twigs to lay her eggs. Congrats to the Mourning Doves, Turtle Doves, for their nest building teamwork!

Doves Eggs
Mourning Doves eggs

Turtle, Mourning Doves are not bothered by us humans. Commonly gutters, eaves and abandoned equipment are seen with Doves Nest. Last year, this graceful bird built a nest atop our treadmill on the back patio. Obviously we were not using it. No wonder we put on the pounds! That is a separate article… 🙂

doves nest
Mourning Doves Nest. This dove is happy to make her nest in our hanging mint plant.

Out of all the hanging plants in our garden the Mourning Dove picked this potted plant. I wasn’t sure how growing a mint plant in a hanging pot would do in the Arizona heat. Although the Mint Plant is  NOT drought tolerant, it is certainly heat tolerant and thriving in our desert garden. Partially shaded by the Chilean Mesquite Tree and extremely fragrant, this mint plant is making the best nesting area for our lovely Mourning Dove.

dove sitting on eggs
A Graceful Mourning Dove in her nest

It is common for a Mourning Dove to reuse their nest.  Our Mrs. Dove has reused this nest for several years. This is her second time in this doves nest over the past 2 months.  I’m going to be very careful to not bother this mommy dove. It is not an easy task to keep the dogs from scaring our precious dove.

Why do doves abandon their nest? Nest abandonment is very common with Mourning Doves.  If a dove feels any threat from predators whether human or animal, the dove may go elsewhere to nest, abandoning both eggs and nestlings.

How long does it take for dove eggs to hatch?  The dove eggs will be incubated for 14-15 days. It takes about the same time for the young dove chicks to leave the nest. Mourning Dove breeding season is April – July although some may breed as late as October.

mourning doves
mourning doves in love

TIDBITS:  Mourning Doves, commonly called Turtle Doves, are one of the most adaptable, widespread North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird for sport and meat. Doves are strong fliers and can reach speeds of 55 mph (88 km/h).