Sunday, February 13, 2011

American Mourning Dove Habitats: Gray Body, Platform Nest, White Egg

Summary: North American mourning dove habitats seasonal outside the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States year-round get gray bodies, platform nests, white eggs.

mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) in a backyard in Toronto, Golden Horseshoe region, Southern Ontario, east central Canada; July 11, 2005: Mdf, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

North American mourning dove habitats abet cultivators with Columbidae dove and pigeon family member appetites for weed seeds and naturalists with distribution ranges year-round from southwestern Canada through Mexico and Caribbean America.
Mourning doves bear their common name for their call and the scientific name Zenaida macroura as a princess's namesake genus and a species' signature long tail. The genus commemorates Zénaïde Laetitia Julie (July 8, 1801-Aug. 8, 1854), wife of ornithologist and prince Charles Lucien Jules Laurent Bonaparte (May 24, 1803-July 29, 1857). Its species divides into the gray-brown, larger carolinensis (Carolina) subspecies east of the Mississippi River and the paler, smaller marginella (marginal) subspecies to the Mississippi's west.
Mourning doves, described in 1758 by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus (May 23, 1707-Jan. 10, 1787), expect 19-year-lifespans in deserts, fields, grasslands, parklands, scrublands, semi-deserts and woodlands.

February through September facilitate brooding two two- to four-egg clutches or more amid vines, at 10- to 50-foot (3.05- to 15.24-meter) heights or on the ground.
Parents-to-be gather sticks and twigs over two to four days into occasionally grass-, rootlet-, weed-lined platform nests sometimes on old grackle, gray catbird or robin nests. Nests house bright white, oval to elliptical, smooth, somewhat glossy, unmarked 0.87- to 1.18-inch- (22- to 30-millimeter-) long, 0.43- to 0.87-inch- (11- to 22-millimeter-) wide eggs. Thirteen- to 15-day incubations of eggs laid alternately and successively in the evening and the morning involve fathers-to-be during the day and mothers-to-be during the night.
Hunting, poisoning from fallen lead shot and from pesticide-riddled prey and predation by black rat snakes, falcons, hawks and raccoons jeopardize North American mourning dove habitats.

Parents-to-be keep helpless hatchlings and nestlings with short, sparse, stringy white down over yellow skin fed through crop-milk secretions from adult female and male neck pouches.
Nestlings learn to fledge as 11- to 13-day-olds even though they leave parent-tended nests in soils and woody plants or on ledges as 25- to 27-day-olds. Mourning doves, physically and sexually mature 85 days after hatching, manage diets of ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and snails; berries, grains, nuts and seeds; and grit. Adults need cereal grains such as barley, corn, millet, oats, rye and wheat; peanuts; and seeds from herbs, sunflowers, trees such as pines and wild grasses.
North American mourning dove habitats up to 8,202.1 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level offer winter-coldest temperatures at minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42.77 degrees Celsius).

Acacia, ash, aspen, basswood, beech, birch, cherry, cottonwood, elm, hawthorn, hickory, locust, mahogany, maple, mesquite, oak, persimmon, poplar, sassafras, sugarberry, sycamore, tamarack and willow provide cover. Blackbrush, bluegrass, bluestem, buffalograss, cedar, cordgrass, cypress, fescue, fir, grama-grass, hemlock, needlegrass, oatgrass, palmetto, paloverde, pine, sagebrush, saltbush, sea-oats, spruce, tarbush and wheatgrass qualify as camouflage.
Black-dotted sides of faces, dark, thin bills, dark-spotted gray wings, gray-tan bodies and long, pointed tails reveal pink-legged, pink-toed, rosy-breasted, small-headed adults with neck-mottled, underpart-mottled juveniles. Direct, quick-beat, twisting flight on 14.57- to 17.72-inch (37- to 45-centimeter) wingspans suggest 2.99- to 6.17-ounce (85- to 175-gram), 9.06- to 13.39-inch (23- to 34-centimeter) adults.
North American mourning dove habitats transmit coo, coo-oo and coo-oo-oo calls of perching males, ohr-ohr sounds of nesting females, mellow owl-like hoO-Oo-oo hoo-hoo-hoo vocalizations and whistles.

mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) egg in hanging planter; July 15, 2006: Mr walsh at English Wikipedia, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) in a backyard in Toronto, Golden Horseshoe region, Southern Ontario, east central Canada; July 11, 2005: Mdf, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @
mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) egg in hanging planter; July 15, 2006: Mr walsh at English Wikipedia, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @

For further information:
Baicich, Paul J.; and Harrison, Colin J.O. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Second edition. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2005.
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. Volumes 8-11, Birds I-IV, edited by Michael Hutchins, Jerome A. Jackson, Walter J. Bock and Donna Olendorf. Farmington Hills MI: Gale Group, 2002.
Linnaeus, Carl. 1758. "16. Columba macroura." Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, Tomus I, Editio Decima, Reformata: 164. Holmiae: Laurentii Salvii.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Linnaeus, Carl. 1766. "37. Columba macroura carolinensis." Systema Naturae, tomus I: 286. Editio Duodecima, Reformata. Holmiae [Stockholm, Sweden]: Laurentii Salvii [Laurentius Salvius].
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Peterson, Alan P., M.D. "Zenaida macroura (Linnaeus) 1758." Zoonomen: Zoological Nomenclature Resource > Birds of the World -- Current Valid Scientific Avian Names > Columbiformes > Columbidae > Zenaida.
Available @
Townsend, Chas. H. (Charles Haskins). 1891. "No. XIV. Birds From the Coasts of Western North America and Adjacent Islands, Collected in 1888 and '89, With Descriptions of New Species: I. Clarion Island: Zenaidura clarionensis  sp. nov." Proceedings of the United States National Museum, vol. XIII (1890), no. 799: 133. Washington DC: Government Printing House.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Wetmore, Alexander. 12 September 1956. "Additional Forms of Birds From Panamá and Colombia: Zenaidura macroura turturilla subsp. nov." Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, vol. 69: 123-125. Baltimore MD: Monumental Printing Co.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Available via HathiTrust @
Woodhouse, S.W. (Samuel Washington), M.D. June 1852. "Description of a New Species of Ectopistes: Ectopiste marginella, nobis." Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, vol. VI (1852, 1853): 104-105. Philadelphia PA: Merrihew & Thompson, 1854.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @

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