Mourning doves are monogamous, some pairs stay together through the winter. Males perform a number of displays, along with a courtship "coo", on a display perch. They will drive other males away from their display perch but do not otherwise establish a territory until after mating. Females land near the male on his display perch, causing the male to begin an elaborate series of courtship maneuvers. If a pair bond is formed, the male and female remain together for a few days before starting to build a nest. After finding a mate, males begin selecting a nest site. Nest construction takes over ten hours and covers a span of three to four days.
Mating System: monogamous
Female mourning doves generally lay two small, white eggs in an open nest. The young leave the nest about 15 days after hatching but remain nearby until they are more accomplished at flying, usually at about 30 days old. Young are able to breed by 85 days old. Mourning doves have the longest breeding season of all North American birds.
Breeding interval: Mourning doves may breed several times in a breeding season, depending on food availability.
Breeding season: February through October
Average eggs per season: 2.0.
Range time to hatching: 15.0 (high) days.
Average time to hatching: 14.0 days.
Average fledging age: 15.0 days.
Average time to independence: 30 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 85.0 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 85.0 days.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization
Average eggs per season: 2.
Both male and female mourning doves share in incubating and feeding their young. Incubation lasts 14 to 15 days. Young mourning doves are fed regurgitated food by both parents. For the first 3 to 4 days after hatching the young are fed only crop milk, an energy rich substance that is produced in the crops of both male and female parents. After that time, parents begin to add more seeds to the regurgitated food until they are fed only regurgitated seeds by the time the young leave the nest. Female mourning doves feed the young most during the first 15 days after hatching but after that males take over the responsibility for feeding the young. The young continue to stay near the nest and beg for food after they have fledged, but can survive on their own after 21 days old if there is food nearby.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- Basket, , Sayre, Tomlins, Sayre. 1993. Ecology and management of the Mourning Dove. Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books.
- Mirarchi, R., T. Baskett. 1994. Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura. The Birds of North America, 117: 1-20.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, F. 2007. "Zenaida macroura" (On-line). Fire Effects Information System. Accessed April 09, 2007 at http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/bird/zema/all.html.
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