About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mourning Dove nesting facts and figures

Do you have an idea of how long it takes a mourning doves eggs to hatch? It seems like our "visitors" laid their eggs about 2 weeks ago, or so. I checked this morning and they still have not hatched. Does this seem odd? They are on the nest 97% of the time. Especially at night. ~ Lansing, MI

Mourning Doves sit on their eggs for about 2 weeks, feed the babies in the nest for about 2 weeks and then care for their young for about a month after they've fledged. Both male and female mourning doves share in incubating and feeding their young. I'm sure it will be any day now before you see little peepers.

Mourning doves are monogamous, and can stay together through the winter. Before mating, males perch and give a courtship "coo". Females sit near the male on his display perch, and then the male begins an elaborate series of courtship maneuvers. If the female approves, males begin selecting a nest site a few days later.

Nest construction takes over ten hours and covers a span of three to four days. The male gives the female dove the sticks and she weaves them into their nest. Female mourning doves generally lay two small, white eggs in their open nest and then rarely leave it unattended. The male usually incubates from mid-morning until late afternoon, and the female sits the rest of the day and night.

When not nesting, they generally eat enough to fill their bi-lobed crops and then fly back to digest. The bird's crop is a large sac at the bottom of the esophagus. In some southern states, the Mourning Doves nest almost year round because they feed their young “crop milk,” a fluid from the lining the crop. The parents regurgitate the "milk" directly into the hatchling's mouth and throat.

After two weeks of incubating the eggs and then two weeks of feeding the babies in the nest, the young fledge but continue to stay nearby and beg for food until they are more accomplished at flying, usually at about 30 days old.

Mourning doves are not picky eaters but feed more comfortably on feeders with large perching areas. Ground feeders, tray feeders and hopper feeders all allow room for doves to perch. They eat a variety of seeds, insects, and berries. Any bird seed blend with a lot of sunflower seeds would be a good choice to attract doves.

After they feed, swallowing lots of seeds and storing them in an enlargement of the esophagus called the crop; they fly to a safe perch to digest slowly.

We have had them on our front porch for about 4 summers now,but I couldn't remember the time frame for the hatching. They do share duties as we have learned to tell the difference of who is on the nest. : ) I feel better knowing that they weren't possibly 2 bad eggs : ( That would be hard. We will announce their arrival : ) Thank You

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6 comments:

Diana Beatty said...

I have a question - are Mourning Doves in competition with Eurasian Collared Doves or do they have different niches?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

The negative effects of this introduced species are still unclear.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove was introduced in the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles when a few pet birds inadvertently escaped or were released. By the 1980s these large doves had dispersed from the Caribbean and colonized southern Florida. Since then they have continued to expand their range explosively in the U.S. By the end of the 1990s, Eurasian Collared-Doves had been sighted as far west as Oregon.

The dispersal method that has facilitated the spread of the Eurasian Collared-Dove has been described as "leapfrogging" when small, new populations spring up hundreds of miles from the known range and over time colonize the areas in between. Intentional introductions (e.g. for hunting purposes) and accidental introductions of as many as 300 birds at a time have also contributed to this method of dispersal of Eurasian Collared-Doves in the U.S.

Eurasian Collared-Doves are extremely successful colonizers and breeders, and some scientists believe that they may be competing with native North American doves, although negative effects have yet to be explicitly demonstrated. In California, Eurasian Collared-Doves may be competitively displacing another non-native dove, the Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis).

When present in large numbers, they can discourage other species from using bird feeders, and may even aggressively defend these food sources, chasing other birds away. Eurasian Collared-Doves can also carry the disease-causing parasite (Trichomonas gallinae), which they may spread to native doves at feeders or birdbaths, or to the native hawks that feed on them.

Full article at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw301 (University of Florida, IFAS Extension)

Mary B said...

I also have a question...We have a pair of doves nesting under our porch eve. They have been nesting for over 3 weeks (it has been at least 3 weeks since we noticed them). I have seen the facts regarding gestation time of 2 weeks and am beginning to worry. Is it possible that the eggs aren't viable and, if so, will the doves become in danger from lack of nutrition/water?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Eggs are incubated for 14 to 15 days. The female doves sits on the eggs at night and during part of the day. The male dove stands guard at night, often some distance away. During the day the male relieves the female so she can defecate, eat, and drink. Toward the end of the 14 day incubation period, both parents often incubate the eggs together to provide additional heat and humidity.

If the eggs aren't viable the doves will eventually move on and build another nest. They are not in danger of of starving. Don't place any food around the nest that might attract predators.

Anonymous said...

I watched two doves build nest in my potted potato vine. Saw first egg almost 2 wks ago and then saw 2 eggs a day later. At first the doves rarely left the nest for long, taking turns. Then a few days ago I noticed the nest would be unattended for hours at a time and not sure there is 2 of them any longer. I see one dove come mid morning, sit for awhile then leave. This goes on all day and not sure if anyone comes at night. Now when the dove is nesting, looks like is sitting up higher than usual. Also, have heard cooing going on close by. Is that one calling for the other? Or has one just flown the coop and looking for another mate? Temp is 80's and 90's during day with several t-storms lately and high 60's or 70's at night. Sun shines on eggs in mornings.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the 14 days incubation is a minimum. I was going to give up on the pair because it has been over 3 weeks since the female built the nest and started sitting. (May 5th) Today is May 31st and I see one chick perhaps another is not hatched or I dont see it. So, dont give up on the doves. They know what they are doing.

You cannot really see the mom and dad switch shift regularly. I have seen them do it twice. But they probably do it every day, since I see a bigger and a ssmaaller one at different times.