What time of year do mourning doves start nesting?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Mourning doves, also known as Zenaida macroura, are fascinating birds that have a unique nesting behavior. The time of year when mourning doves start nesting can vary depending on their location. Generally, in the northern regions, they may begin their first nest as early as March. However, in the southern states, these birds can start nesting as early as February and sometimes even in January.

It is interesting to note that mourning doves are prolific nesters. A pair of mourning doves can make repeated nesting attempts throughout the year. They are known to have multiple broods, sometimes raising as many as five broods between the months of March and October.

This nesting behavior is quite remarkable and shows the dedication of mourning doves to their offspring. It is not uncommon to find them nesting in the same location or near their previous nests. They are known to reuse old nests or build new ones altogether.

The process of nesting for mourning doves involves the male dove initiating courtship displays to attract a mate. Once a pair is formed, they work together to build a nest. The male dove collects twigs and presents them to the female, who then arranges them into a loose, flimsy structure. The nest is often located in trees, shrubs, or sometimes even on the ground.

The female dove then lays two creamy-white eggs, which both parents take turns incubating. The incubation period lasts for approximately two weeks. Once the eggs hatch, both parents participate in the care of the young doves. They feed them crop milk, a highly nutritious secretion produced in their crop, until the chicks are ready to fledge.

Mourning doves are known for their gentle cooing sounds, which can often be heard during the nesting season. Their soft, mournful calls are a common sound in many suburban and rural areas. Observing these birds during their nesting period can be a delightful experience, as they display their natural instincts and nurturing behaviors.

In my personal experience, I have had the pleasure of witnessing mourning doves nesting in my backyard. It was a joy to see them diligently building their nests and caring for their young. The constant presence of these birds created a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, with their soft calls adding a soothing element to the surroundings.

To summarize, mourning doves start nesting at different times of the year depending on their location. In the north, they typically begin in March, while in the south, nesting can start as early as February or even January. These birds are known for their repeated nesting attempts, raising multiple broods between March and October. Their nesting behavior showcases their dedication to their offspring, and observing them during this time can be a fascinating experience.