Mourning Doves or Game Dove are birds that are quite similar to pigeons. The Mourning Dove ( Scientific Name is Zenaida macroura) is a member of the Dove family ( that is, Columbidae ). This bird is also called as either Turtle Dove or American Mourning Dove or sometimes Rain Dove. It was formerly known as Carolina Pigeon or also Carolina Turtledove. It is amongst the most abundant and widespread birds of North America. It is also a leading game bird. In the U.S. more than 20 million birds ( up to 70 million in some years ) shot annually, for sport or for meat.
People can hear the Mourning Doves almost every day. Their low voice mournful song is very easy to recognize due to which the bird is known as Mourning Dove.
The mourning doves have a thin and delicate-looking bill. They have a neat head and a long graduated tail which is bordered with large white colour spots. The colors of the female are dull as compared to gray-brown adult males.
Adult males can be easily distinguished by the purple-pink feathers on the neck and light pink colour on the breast. The upper part of the throat is having white shades. The legs and foot are dull red coloured or purplish red.
Wingspread : 17 to 19 inches
Length : 11 to 13 inches long
Tail : 5 to 7 inches
Weight : 4.5 to 6 ounces.
They have some qualities and behaviours , like other columbids. The Mourning Dove Bird usually drink by suction, without lifting its head or without tilting. They often gather at drinking spots while dawn and dusk takes place.
Mourning doves takes sun bath or rain bath by lying on the ground surface or on a flat tree limb by leaning over and stretching a wing and keeping this posture for twenty minutes. Dustbathing is common as well in Mourning Doves.
Mourning Doves fly very fast with powerful wingbeats. It sometimes make sudden ascents, dodges, and descents with their pointed tails stretch behind them. The mourning dove’s flight is very swift and darting. The wings produce a whistling sound. The mourning dove has flight speed of 30-55 mph.
Since they are named for their distinctive voice, the mourning doves have three basic calls:-
1) The “advertising coo” has a very clear but quite sad tone.
2) The “display coo” is the somewhat same except with higher intensity.
3) The “nest coo” is the also same as the advertising call but it’s louder.
Almost ninety-nine percents of the mourning dove’s diet is dependent on grains and weed seeds. The Preferable weed seeds contains foxtails, pigweed, wild sunflower, and ragweed. Preferred grains include sorghum, corn and millet. Insects make up a very little proportion of the dove’s diet. Doves usually move around an average of 2 to 8 miles for searching of food.
BREEDING & GROOMING:
All Dove Bird mainly build their nests in trees, shrubs, or vines but sometimes they prefer to build them on the ground.
Materials they use in building nest include sticks, twigs , grass, weeds, and rootlets. Sometimes, instead of building their own nest, a pair of doves use an old nest of a catbird, grackle, robin, or other bird.
The female doves lay two white colour eggs. They basically hatch in around two weeks. The baby Mourning Doves leave their nests after two weeks from the day they hatch. Parent doves feed their young ones with “pigeon’s milk” for a few days. Pigeon’s milk is the food supplied or thrown up by the parent.
A wide number of known diseases and parasites usually affect mourning doves. Parasites like intestinal parasites (flukes, nematodes, tapeworms), ectoparasites (lice, mites), and blood parasites, none of which are related to mortality. Haemoproteus columbae is a common blood parasite. Trichomonas gallinae is amongst the most dangerous pathogens. They exist very peacefully in the host but can also cause cheesy and yellowish growth within the mouth and esophagus and making it difficult for the mourning doves to eat and eventually leads to death by starvation. Avian pox is a kind of virus that causes lesions on the skin and mucous membranes of mouth and upper respiratory part. These lesions can also make it very difficult for the eye sight of mourning dove and in eating and can lead to death by starvation.
MORTALITY ( Life Span) :
Naturally the mortality rate in mourning doves is high. Approx six out of ten birds don’t survive for one year to the next. Research shows that mourning dove’s mortality is caused by a variety of factors including hunting, predators, accidents, disease, and weather extremes. Around 55 to 75 percents of juveniles can not survive for an year. Adult mortality is approx 55 percent (annually).
Usually these pets cost around 12-20 $ in most of the pet-stores.
But you need to do the proper research before purchasing a pet of this type so that a good, healthy and cost effective pet can be brought to your home.