Bird of the Month: Mourning Dove
Mourning dove sings one of the most recognizable songs. (Photo from Getty Images)
“Coo-OO-oo-woo!” With their rather sorrowful call, the mourning dove sings one of the most recognizable songs. Early scientists believed their high-pitched call in a minor key sounded a bit sad, so they gave them the name mourning dove.
Mourning doves are one of the most widespread and common birds in the United States. Many people also call them turtle doves, a name that might ring a bell if you’re familiar with the popular holiday song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Mourning doves are typically around 12 inches long and have a wingspan of 18 inches. Males and females look very similar, each featuring gray-brown upper feathers with black spots and whitish-gray lower feathers. Mourning doves have a very distinct baby blue ring around their eyes, making them easy to identify. During breeding season, males have a rosy cast and blue-tinted nape. Most pairs have 5 to 6 broods each year, with two eggs in each set!
You’re likely to see mourning doves hunting for food in open areas or on the sides of the road. Seeds are a primary component of their diet, so consider scattering birdseed in fields for them to eat. Be sure to fill up bird feeders with a good seed variety, as they’re sure to visit for a treat! The doves often collect seeds to snack on later in a secluded area.
Mourning doves are a popular game bird in Mississippi, with hunting season opening in the fall and winter months. Despite this fact, these birds still have one of the highest populations across the United States.
Get more information about Mississippi’s wildlife in our Schoolyard Nature Guides!
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