Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

  • Migratory bird
  • Comes through the Southeast in early fall through winter; some remain in Mississippi year-round
  • Require fields and open ground for food and trees or tall shrubs for nesting

Species Description: Mourning Dove

Mourning doves are found year-round in Mississippi in a variety of habitats such as grasslands, farmlands, open woods and roadsides. They feed almost exclusively on plants and seeds from agricultural crops, native grasses and weeds. Insects are occasionally included in their diet. They primarily obtain food on open ground and will not scratch for seeds.

Mourning doves nest in trees or tall shrubs about 15 feet from the ground. Ideal nesting sites provide warmth in the winter, shade in the summer and cover from predators. They always nest in close proximity to ponds, puddles or streams with little vegetation. Less vegetation allows them more easily access drinking water while watching for predators.

Doves have a high mortality rate similar to that of other small game wildlife species. About 15 percent can be hunted without significantly impacting their population. Mourning doves’ main predators include raccoons, hawks, owls, squirrels, snakes, cats and dogs.

Mississippi State University Publications
Mourning Dove Management for Landowners

Mourning Dove Management for Landowners (PDF)
Mississippi State University Extension Service, Natural Resource Enterprises

Managing fields for mourning dove hunting is a relatively cost effective natural-resource based enterprise that does not require large amounts of land. This publication discusses the population, mating habits and life history of mourning doves. Habitat requirements and food needs are covered as well planting food plots. Information on purchasing liability insurance and hunting regulations is provided as well as appropriate fees for hunting leases.

Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast

Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast (PDF)
Mississippi State University Extension Service

This guide provides information on food plots and habitat management practices including disking, mowing and prescribed burning. The importance of openings is also discussed. A combination of supplemental forages in food planting is often necessary, as well as testing soil quality, fertilizing and liming. The location, size and shape of food plots as well as how to prepare them and which plants to use is included. An extensive guide on planting materials is given.

Poke Salad

Poke salad is a tall native plant that grows in disturbed areas like old fields and produces berries that cardinals, mourning doves, bluebirds, king birds, and other birds eat.

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