The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, which includes doves and pigeons.
The Mourning Dove breeds from southern Canada to Central America and the Caribbean, laying two white eggs on a flimsy platform built in a tree or shrub, sometimes on a building. These birds may raise six or more broods in a season. Eggs take approximately two weeks to hatch, and the young chicks typically fledge after only two weeks in the nest. Parents feed the young pigeon’s milk, a nutrient-rich substance regurgitated from its crop.
In many parts of the United States, the Mourning Dove is hunted as a game bird. However, Mourning Doves are Wisconsin’s official symbol of peace.
The bird is resident and abundant over much of its range, but many northern birds migrate south in winter. It is presumably Canadian birds which give rise to the very rare occurrences of this species in western Europe.
The Mourning Dove is approximately 31 cm (12 in) in length. It has a long tapered tail and is greyish-brown above and pinkish below. The wings have black spotting, and the outer tail feathers are white. The male has bright purple-pink patches on the neck sides; these are less obvious in the female. Young birds have a scaly appearance.
This bird is found in a range of open and semi-open habitats. Its mournful cooOOoo-coo-coo call is familiar throughout its range, as is the whistling of its wings as it takes flight.
These birds forage on the ground, mainly eating grains and seeds, sometimes also on insects. They often swallow fine gravel to assist with digestion. At bird feeders, Mourning Doves are attracted to one of the largest ranges of seed types of any North American bird, with a preference for corn, millet, safflower, and sunflower chips.
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