Mourning Dove

Common Name: Mourning Dove
Zenaida macroura

photo Ivan Andrijevic



The Mourning Dove is a member of the order Columbiformes which means pigeons. It is of the family Columbidae which is comprised of doves and pigeons. It is in the genus Zenaida which is made up of the Zenaida doves.

photo Ivan Andrijevic

The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized bird with a small head and a long tail. Their bodies are a solid shade of gray with black spots on the wings and near the eyes. The Mourning Dove has a small black bill and the feet and legs are red in color. Also, the tip of their pointed tail is white, and is very noticeable as they take flight. The males are larger and slightly brighter than the females, having a bluish crown and a more rosy colored chest.


The Mourning Dove can live in many different kinds of habitats. However, it is mostly found near forest edges and in more open areas of woodland. For this reason, they are often found in suburban settlements where humans have created large areas just like this.
The Mourning Dove mainly eats seeds and grains off of the ground. It has also been seen eating different kinds of insects and seeds off of plants.



Mourning Doves will migrate to warmer climates during winter months, but overall are one of the most widespread birds in North America. They are commonly found in suburban and agricultural areas feeding on ground seeds.

Mourning Doves usually breed between February and October, and may lay multiple broods in a single season. Mourning Doves also form monogamous pairs. The male will land on a perch and display, not claiming a territory, but only looking for a mate. Once a pair is formed, they will stay together a few days before building a nest. It is then that the male will begin to defend his territory. The female will almost always lay 2 white eggs. Both the male and the female will incubate and feed the young, moving from a milk substance to regurgitated seeds until the hatchings are fledged at about 15 days. The mother will do most of the feeding in the beginning until about 15 days, and then the male takes over until they are experienced enough to leave the area of the nest. A young Mourning Dove is then already ready to breed at the age of 85 days.


The Mourning Dove has a very distinctive “coo-coo” sound that can be heard throughout summer months when the males are looking for a mate.

Where to see them in WNY

Mourning Doves can be found almost anywhere in North America. The best bet to find them is to keep an eye out near roadsides in agricultural and suburban areas. They stay near forest edges overlooking open areas. is a program of Canisius College, Buffalo, NY.                                                  Web Design by Ivan Andrijevic