Do Mourning Doves Eat at Bird Feeders? A Clear Answer




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With their soft coos and tranquil presence, Mourning Doves are a beloved sight in many backyards across the country. Their elegant silhouettes and subtle gray plumage make them a graceful addition to any garden scene.

But when it comes to feeders, do these serene birds join the dining party?

Let’s take a closer look at the feeding habits of Mourning Doves and uncover whether they’re inclined to frequent our carefully curated bird buffets.

Key Takeaways

  • Mourning doves primarily eat seeds in the wild, including wild grass seeds, weed seeds, herb seeds, and cultivated grains.
  • Mourning doves will eat seed from a bird feeder if it’s an open tray or platform, but they prefer to feed on the ground.
  • To attract mourning doves to your backyard, consider placing a ground feeder and using the strategies we’ll discuss later to keep them away from your other bird feeders.

Understanding Mourning Doves

Mourning doves are a common sight in North America and Mexico. They are medium-sized birds with slim bodies, thin necks, and long, tapered tails that enable them to fly up to 55 miles per hour. These birds are known for their soft cooing calls, which can be heard throughout the day.

Mourning doves are sexually dimorphic, which means that males and females have different physical characteristics. Males have a bluish-gray crown and nape, while females have a more brownish-gray color. Both sexes have a pinkish-gray head and neck, with a small black mark under their chin.

One interesting fact about mourning doves is that they mate for life. They form strong pair bonds and will stay together throughout the year, even during migration. Mourning doves are migratory birds, and they will travel south for the winter. They typically migrate in flocks, and their migration patterns can vary depending on the location.

In terms of diet, mourning doves are primarily seed-eaters. They will eat a variety of seeds, including those from grasses, weeds, and crops. They are also known to eat berries and small fruits. However, they are not typically attracted to nuts or suet, so these foods may not be effective at attracting them to bird feeders.

Mourning Doves and Bird Feeders

Mourning doves are a common sight in many backyards. These birds are primarily seed-eaters, and they will often feed on the ground. If you have a bird feeder in your yard, you may be wondering whether or not mourning doves will eat from it.

The answer is yes, mourning doves will eat from bird feeders. However, they may have a tough time maneuvering around tight spaces, such as a feeder with small perches. If you want to attract mourning doves to your feeder, consider using a platform feeder or a tray feeder. These types of feeders have a larger surface area and are easier for mourning doves to access.

When it comes to the type of food to offer mourning doves, they prefer cracked corn, black sunflower seeds, and red and white millet. However, if you have a bird feeder, it’s best to avoid using these types of food. Even if they can’t get into the bird feeder, the spillover that hits the ground could be enough to keep attracting them to the area.

If you want to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeder, there are a few things you can do. Elevating the feeder off the ground can be an effective way to deter them from accessing it. Additionally, using smaller perches or offering only small seeds such as millet or nyjer may limit their ability to access the feeder.

Diet of Mourning Doves

Mourning doves are primarily seed-eaters, and their diet consists of a variety of seeds, grains, and weed seeds. They are also known to eat berries, snails, and insects. Mourning doves are ground feeders and prefer to forage for food on the ground.

When it comes to bird feeders, mourning doves are attracted to a variety of seeds, including sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, peanuts, safflower, and nyjer. They prefer to eat on the ground or on platform feeders, as they are not good at maneuvering around tight spaces or perches.

In addition to seeds, mourning doves also require grit to help with digestion. Grit is small, hard particles like sand or small stones that the birds ingest to help grind up their food in their gizzard. You can provide grit to mourning doves by adding small amounts of sand or crushed eggshells to their food.

Mourning doves require a diet that is high in protein and fat, especially during breeding season when they need the extra energy to raise their young. You can provide protein-rich food to mourning doves by offering mealworms, shelled sunflower seeds, or shelled peanuts.

Feeding Habits

Mourning doves are primarily ground feeders, but they will also visit backyard bird feeders to forage for food. They are known to be frequent visitors to bird feeders, especially during the winter months when food is scarce.

Mourning doves have a unique digestive system that allows them to digest tough seeds. They have a crop, which is a pouch-like organ in their throat that stores food before it enters their stomach. The crop secretes a liquid called “crop milk” or “pigeon milk,” which is rich in nutrients and is fed to their young.

In the wild, mourning doves feed on a variety of grains such as wheat, corn, millet, and oats. They also eat hulled peanuts, sesame seeds, and black oil sunflower seeds. To a lesser degree, they will also eat barley, buckwheat, cowpea, rice, rye, or soybean. Their favorite tree seeds include pine and sweetgum trees.

If you want to attract mourning doves to your backyard bird feeder, you should provide them with a mix of grains and seeds. Examples of bird feeder seeds and grains that would keep mourning doves happy include cracked corn, grain sorghum, black oil sunflower seeds, milo, millet, and safflower seed.

It’s important to maintain a fresh and balanced diet for the mourning doves that visit your bird feeder. Avoid using food that has gone stale or moldy, as it can be harmful to the birds. Additionally, keep the feeder clean and free of debris to prevent the spread of disease.

Mourning Doves and Other Birds

If you’re wondering whether mourning doves eat at bird feeders, the answer is yes. These gentle birds are seed-eaters, and they love to feed on a variety of seeds, including sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn. You can attract mourning doves to your bird feeder by offering these types of seeds.

However, it’s important to note that mourning doves may not be the only birds feeding at your bird feeder. Other birds, such as cardinals and songbirds, may also be attracted to the seeds you offer. This is because many birds enjoy the same types of seeds that mourning doves do.

If you want to attract a specific type of bird to your feeder, consider offering a specific type of seed that that bird prefers. For example, cardinals are known to enjoy sunflower seeds, while finches prefer thistle seeds. By offering a variety of seeds, you can attract a variety of birds to your feeder.

It’s also important to note that feeding birds can be regulated by local laws and regulations. The Audubon Society recommends checking with your local wildlife commission to ensure that you are following any regulations that may be in place in your area.

Mourning Doves and Their Environment

Mourning doves are primarily seed-eaters, and they love to feed on the ground. They will often come to bird feeders, but they prefer to eat on the ground under elevated feeders. They will quickly eat seeds to fill their crop, then digest them while resting. Mourning doves are also known to regularly swallow grit (small gravel) to aid in digestion of hard seeds.

Mourning doves can be found in a variety of environments, including fields, open spaces, farms, grasslands, and prairies. They prefer areas with scattered trees and shrubs, which provide them with perching and nesting sites. They also enjoy being near wild grasses and other plants, which provide them with a source of food.

During incubation, mourning doves will often build their nests on the ground or on a flat surface such as a roof. They will use grass, weeds, and other materials to construct their nests, which are usually quite simple. The female will typically lay two eggs, which are white and slightly larger than a grape.

After hatching, baby mourning doves are known as squabs. They are born with a thin layer of down and are unable to move around much on their own. The parents will take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the squabs until they are able to leave the nest on their own.

Mourning Doves and Squirrels

Mourning doves are primarily seed-eaters, and they will often visit bird feeders to eat seeds. However, they are not the only ones who enjoy bird feeders. Squirrels also love to visit bird feeders, and they can be quite persistent in their efforts to get to the food. So, what happens when mourning doves and squirrels both want to eat from the same bird feeder?

When mourning doves and squirrels are both trying to eat from the same bird feeder, it can create a bit of a problem. Squirrels are known for their persistence, and they will often try to get to the food by climbing the feeder or jumping onto it from nearby trees or buildings. This can scare away the mourning doves and make it difficult for them to get to the food.

One way to prevent squirrels from getting to the bird feeder is to use a squirrel-proof feeder. These feeders are designed to prevent squirrels from climbing or jumping onto them, while still allowing mourning doves and other birds to access the food. Another option is to use a baffle, which is a device that is placed around the feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing up the pole or tree that the feeder is attached to.

If you do not want to use a squirrel-proof feeder or a baffle, there are other ways to discourage squirrels from visiting your bird feeder. For example, you can place the feeder in a location that is difficult for squirrels to access, such as on a high pole or in a tree that is not near any buildings or other structures that squirrels can climb. You can also use a squirrel repellent, which is a substance that is sprayed on the bird feeder or the area around it to deter squirrels from coming near.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do mourning doves eat besides birdseed?

Mourning doves mainly eat seeds and greens, with the occasional berry or snail as an option. They are also known to eat insects, earthworms, caterpillars, and snails if the opportunity arises. However, they are not known to eat peanuts in the shell, whole peanuts, striped sunflower, walnuts, acorns, or other large nuts.

How can I attract mourning doves to my feeder?

To attract mourning doves to your feeder, you can provide a platform feeder or a large hopper feeder that can comfortably accommodate them. If things are getting crowded and competitive with other birds, mourning doves will also readily take to a ground feeder. You may see them foraging for dropped seeds on the ground anyway, so providing a ground feeder provides a fresh, clean food supply.

What type of feeder is best for mourning doves?

Mourning doves are ground feeders, so a platform feeder or a large hopper feeder is best for them. A ground feeder can also be used to provide a fresh, clean food supply.

Do mourning doves eat suet or peanuts?

Suet is typically not a food that mourning doves will eat. They are not known to eat peanuts in the shell, whole peanuts, striped sunflower, walnuts, acorns, or other large nuts.

Why don’t mourning doves use bird feeders as often?

Mourning doves are ground feeders, and they are more comfortable eating on the ground than on a feeder. They also prefer to eat alone or in pairs, so they may avoid crowded feeders.

How can I keep squirrels away from my mourning dove feeder?

To keep squirrels away from your mourning dove feeder, you can try using mesh, netting, or harmless bird spikes to prevent the squirrels from potentially perching around the areas in quest as well as their nesting sites. Another option is to use a squirrel-proof feeder designed to keep squirrels from getting to the food.

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