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Species Guide
A photo of a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

The Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura, is a member of the dove family, Columbidae. It is a medium-sized, slender bird with a soft, grayish-brown plumage and a long, pointed tail. It is known for its gentle appearance and mournful cooing, which has given rise to its name.

Identification Tips

Adult Mourning Doves have light gray and brown feathers with a slightly pinkish hue on the underside. Males and females are similar, but males may exhibit more vibrant purple-pink patches on the neck. The eyes are surrounded by light blue skin, and a distinctive crescent of dark feathers lies below the eye. The tail is long and tapered, with the outer feathers being white, providing a stark contrast to the black inner feathers.


Mourning Doves are found in a variety of open and semi-open habitats, including urban environments, farms, prairies, grasslands, and areas with sparse woodland. They tend to avoid dense forests and swamps.


This species is widespread across North America, from southern Canada through the United States, Mexico, and into Central America. It is also found in the Greater Antilles and Bermuda.


Mourning Doves are known for their swift and direct flight, capable of reaching speeds up to 55 mph. They are strong fliers and exhibit a unique whistling sound from their wings during take-off and landing. These birds are also known for their sunbathing and rain bathing behaviors, often lying on the ground with one wing stretched out.

Song & Calls

The male Mourning Dove's call is a sorrowful cooOOoo-wooo-woo-woooo, which is used to attract a mate. Other vocalizations include a soft ork when greeting and a short roo-oo as an alarm call. The wing whistle during flight is a distinctive characteristic of this species.


Mourning Doves are generally monogamous and may raise multiple broods in a single year, especially in warmer regions. Both parents share in the incubation duties and care for the young, known as squabs. The nests are often built with twigs and are relatively flimsy in construction.

Similar Species

The Mourning Dove may be confused with other dove species, but its long, pointed tail and distinctive wing whistle during flight are key identification features.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of Mourning Doves consists almost exclusively of seeds. They forage on the ground and have been observed eating a wide variety of plant seeds, showing preferences for certain species.

Conservation status

The Mourning Dove is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is one of the most abundant and widespread birds in North America, and despite being a popular gamebird, it has maintained a stable population due to its prolific breeding habits.

Mourning Dove Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Mourning Dove Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Mourning Dove has a sad and mournful call, from which it gets its name.
Did you know?
The Mourning Dove is the national bird of British Virgin Islands

Mourning Doves on Birda


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