About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dove nest attacked

A couple of doves built a nest in my Hibiscus Tree outside of the study window. For the past 3 weeks I have watched and talked to them as they watched me. Four days ago two baby doves arrived. All was fine last night, then this morning I noticed the nest was destroyed. One of the parent doves (I don't know if it is the male or female) that survived is looking and calling for its family. I figure both babies are gone, but was hoping the mate survived. I did find one gray dove feather down by the street. I think the attack was from a large crow type bird that has been hanging around. 

It is really not that well protected from predators and the environment. Do you have any suggestions on how to protect the doves and the nest if they build there again? I wish I could have helped. Also, when should I remove the destroyed nest? My heart goes out to the surviving dove that is searching and calling for its mate. How long before it gives up?  ~ Southwest, FL

Once a bird has chosen her nesting site, you can only leave them alone and let nature take its course. Birds learn through trial and error about how and where to build nests. If this particular site didn’t work out for her, she will move on to a new location after about 10 days.

Doves are known for their inappropriate nesting sites. Their nest is usually a fragile, shallow platform of twigs. They will nest on the branch of a shrub, tree or even sometimes on the ground.

The dove nest building process starts with the male bird collecting the sticks and passing them to the female to weave into a nest while standing on her back. Once she lays her eggs, the pair rarely leaves the nest unattended. The male usually incubates from mid-morning until late afternoon, and the female sits the rest of the day and night.

Doves, like a lot of birds, rely on camouflage to protect them from predators’ attacks. Sometimes they remain still until danger passes or they may leave the nest as danger approaches, to lure the predator away. Unfortunately in your case the doves didn’t escape predation.

Fortunately, Mourning Doves can be found throughout most of North America and are considered among the top ten most abundant birds in the United States. Mourning doves may breed several times in a breeding season, from February to October. While the average longevity for a typical adult is only about 1.5 years, the mortality rate of juveniles can be as high as 70% in their first year of life. But they can also be the longest lived bird found in North America. Bird banding research recorded one dove more than 31 years old.

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