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Thursday, July 01, 2010


Mourning Dove taking-off

Mourning Dove, juvenal, sitting on the arm of our Adirondack chair

I took the above photo of a Mourning Dove taking off. It shows the interesting tail feather patterns. Often people find Mourning Dove tail feathers on the ground and do not know who they belong to. Since the tail feathers are boldly patterned, but usually not visible, people do not suspect they come from the plainly colored Mourning Doves in their yard. We often find the tail feathers near our bird feeders, sometimes the result of predation on the Mourning Dove by a falcon or accipiter, sometimes a sign the Mourning Dove got away.

Mourning Doves are widespread across the country and migratory in the northern parts of their range. They build a flimsy nest and usually have 2 young which they feed "pigeon milk," a nutritious, whitish liquid the parents regurgitate. The young put their bills inside the parent's and the parent pumps the food up. Toward the end of the nestling phase, an increasing percentage of the food is regurgitated seeds and insects. Feedings are spaced far apart since it takes the parents time to collect all the seeds. The young leave the nest at about 12-13 days old, but may roost in the nest at night for the first 2 or 3 days of the fledgling phase. Within a week or more they are on their own and feed in flocks of other juvenals and adults. Juvenal Mourning Doves have wing and breast feathers lined with buff.

We find Mourning Doves to be interesting birds, you just have to look beyond that plain exterior.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Gorgeous take off shot. My husband just said that his next goal is to get a Mourning Dove on take-off or landing to show those tail feathers.

Kat said...

I love the Mourning Doves. I did not know that about the pigeon milk! Interesting. Beautiful photo. I see those feathers now and then and knew where they came from because we used to have a cat that loved (to eat) the poor little Doves.