Photograph of a  mourning dove parent  and two fledglings

This photograph of a mother dove and two fledglings was taken in our carport.

Desert Duets: Mourning Dove Babies Web Page

Both mourning dove parents build the nest. The male collects twigs and gives them to the female who weaves them into a loose nest. In the photograph above, the nest looks simply like a pile of twigs. (Mourning doves built this nest on a rack for garden tools on the side of a house.) Doves mate year round and can have up to six clutches in one year, which may explain why there are so many mourning doves!

Mourning doves usually lay two eggs. Males sit on the eggs during the day and females warm the eggs at night. It takes from 14 to 16 days for the eggs to hatch. One or the other parent remains with the eggs or nestlings at all times. The babies are fed "pigeon milk," which both parents make in their crop, a sac at the bottom of the throat. The parents regurgitate the pigeon milk, which is high in protein, directly into the nestlings' mouths.

The fledglings fly after about 12 to 14 days, but they stay close to the nest for another week or two. The parents take care of them until they are about 26 to 27 days old. In the photograph above, a mourning dove parent sits in the nest with two fledglings.

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Launched: February 2008
Updated: 6 December 2008