This beautiful Mourning Dove first visited us in March, 2002. She prepared her nest in one of our cactus pots on our front porch. A few days later, she was sitting on 2 eggs. When we would pass by, she would look at us as if to say “hello”, and would remain on her nest. Approximately two weeks later, two tiny babies would hatch from the eggs. The Dove was always very attentive to her chicks. She would let us come very near to the nest, and take as many pictures as we would want. A few weeks after the chicks hatched, they were ready to spread their wings and leave the nest. A short time later, The Dove would be back, preparing another nest in the same spot, and hatching two more eggs. From March 2002 until October 2005, The Dove raised between 4 – 6 clutches of Chicks per season.
Mourning Dove Mourning Doves feed their nestlings crop milk or "pigeon milk," which is secreted by the crop lining. This is an extremely nutritious food with more protein and fat than is found in either cow or human milk. Crop milk, which is regurgitated by both adults, is the exclusive food of hatchlings for three days, after which it is gradually replaced by a diet of seeds . The most abundant dove in the United States, the Mourning Dove is also the most widely hunted and harvested game bird. The name comes from the familiar, although easily overlooked song, a low-toned moaning cooah, coo, coo, coo . This dove, found across the United States and southern Canada, is most common throughout the Great Plains in the Midwest. In warm climates, these doves produce up to six broods per year, the most of any native bird. Typically, two eggs are laid in a nest made in an evergreen tree, although a wide variety of nest sites are used, including clumps of grass.
In winter, Mourning Doves prefer average minimum January temperatures greater than 10 degrees Fahrenheit; Rocky Mountain, Great Basin, and Great Plains birds may migrate to escape the cold. Mourning Doves also require a source of water; thus, peak abundances occur near rivers. In arid areas, large flocks visit water sources at dawn and dusk. Mobile foraging flocks of Mourning Doves feed primarily on the ground, consuming waste grain—especially wheat and buckwheat—and weed seeds. Their crops fill quickly with seeds and digestion, aided by swallowed grit, occurs while the birds are resting, often in groups perched in trees or on wires. They readily come to feeders. Flocks are formed in every season, except while the birds are breeding—then, the birds disperse in pairs. When disturbed, Mourning Doves burst into strong, rapid flight on whistling wings.
Description: A Mourning Dove is a long (approximately 12 inches), slim, gray-brown bird with a small head and a long, pointed tail. The outer tail feathers have white tips with a black marking midway, so that the tail is edged with a black and white stripe. Wings show dark primaries, and wing coverts and scapulars are boldly spotted with black. The dove's crown, nape, and hindneck are slate in color, turning to grayish brown over the rest of the upperparts. The face is pinkish buff, the underparts have a pinkish wash, and the belly is buff-colored. Legs are reddish in color. The eye has a bluish ring of bare skin, and there is a small black spot and a larger iridescent purplish area on the side of the neck. This area is larger in males. Females have more brown coloring overall.
<ul><li>In October 2005, as I snapped the following picture, I was sadly aware that this would be the last clutch of chicks that we would be blessed to observe, as we would be leaving for our new home in the Northeast the following week. This precious Dove had been with us going on 5 years. She had approximately 6 clutches of chicks per year. She and her chicks survived all 4 Florida hurricanes in 2004. Through each storm, my husband and I watched her hold on in her nest as long as she could. When the winds raged out of control, she was either blown away or flew away to the safety of the trees. We placed the baby chicks in a safe corner of our porch, and prayed that Mama would be safe and return home. Sure enough. . . each time after we placed the chicks back in Mama's favorite spot, she returned home! This beautiful dove and her family were a constant reminder of God's wonderful creation, love, and care, and confirmation that not only in the good times, but through the storms and strife of life, He is always there. We'll always be grateful for this wonderful and amazing gift – truly a gift from The Dove. </li></ul><ul><li>When troubles surround us, When evils come The body grows weak, The spirit grows numb When these things beset us, He doesn't forget us He sends down His love On the wings of a dove </li></ul>