For us city dwellers, there are certain animals that we are just used to seeing in and around the concrete landscape. Mourning Doves are a great example of this! We hear them in our neighbourhoods and see them at our bird feeders all the time.
With animals, like the Mourning Dove, which we frequently see, it can happen that we lose our excitement or interest in them. However, if we choose to shift our way of looking at things and take some time to learn more, we’ll begin to see these “common” animals in a whole different way!
To help you on this journey, here is our list of 10 things you might not know about Mourning Doves:
1. Frostbite is Afoot
Cold winter days can be a bit challenging for Mourning Doves that are living in the northern parts of their geographic range. It is not uncommon to spot them with frostbitten toes and missing toenails.
2. Quick in the Air
Mourning Doves have long, pointed wings, and pointed tails which are longer other dove species. These are just some of the features on a Mourning Dove’s body that allow them to fly surprisingly fast. They’ve been recorded flying at speeds of up to 80km/h!
3. Famous Relative
The Mourning Dove is thought to be one of the closest living relatives to the extinct Passenger Pigeon.
4. Till Death Do us Part
Loyalty and commitment are very much so a part of the Mourning Dove’s way of life. They will stay with the same mate throughout the breeding season. It is even thought that some will stick with the same mate throughout their life.
5. Nuts about Seeds
Mourning Doves mostly eat seeds. It makes up 99% of their diet and they will consume up to 20% of their body weight in seeds each day. Sometimes, when they grab seeds off of the ground, rather than eating them, they will collect them in their “crop” for digestion later. The “crop,” is basically an enlarged part of their esophagus.
6. Natural Straw
Other birds drink water by filling their bills and letting the water run down their throats but Mourning Doves do things a little differently… they’ll drink water by sucking it up!
7. No Wingman Needed
The well-known “cooOOoo-woo-woo-woooo” call is almost always made by the male Mourning Dove and not the female. In fact, it is a wooing call, used to entice a mate or potential mate.
8. Good Things Come in Twos
When Mourning Doves lay their eggs, it is almost always just two eggs. A larger clutch of eggs, or a single egg is a pretty rare occurrence for this species of bird.
9. Odd Sleeper
Mourning Doves sleep differently from other birds. Their head will rest between their shoulders, close to their bodies, rather than tucked under their shoulder feathers.
10. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Male and female Mourning Doves will work together to feed their newly hatched young “Crop Milk” for the first couple days of their life. This protein and fat-rich “milk” is reminiscent of cottage cheese. It is secreted in the adult dove’s crop lining and is regurgitated to for their young to consume.
Keep an eye out for Mourning Doves on your next visit to High Park!