Bird Database

Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







None identified

Conservation Actions

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Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Doves are named from their song: a low drawn out – and mournful – “coo-oo coo coo coo.” Sometimes called a “song,” only males make this noise, which is used to attract females and often given from conspicuous perches. If he is successful, the new pair will soon be inseparable, with the male often following the female closely wherever she goes. Less often seen is the male’s display flight, in which he rises from a perch with exaggerated flapping and glides back down in a slow circle. Eventually they will build a loose platform nest together, with the male delivering sticks to the female while standing on her back.

This is a short-lived but very fecund species. Although the average life span is only a year, a pair of doves can have 3-5 broods per year (two eggs per clutch) and young can breed when only three months old. However, most do not breed in their first year unless they matured while day length was long enough to stimulate production of the appropriate hormones. Many of the young doves produced during a breeding season are consumed by predators such as hawks and falcons, while eggs are eaten by rodents and racoons. And although not hunted in New Hampshire, the Mourning Dove is the most popular game bird in the United States, with more birds taken by hunters each year than all waterfowl combined.

Mourning Doves were not a common member of New Hampshire’s avifauna in the 19th century, with many early writers commenting that they saw it rarely or at all. It slowly expanded into the southeastern portion of the state by the early 1900s, although at this point it tended to migrate away in the winter months. It wasn’t until the 1940s that birds became regular north of the White Mountains – and remained in the winter to the south. This increase continued into the 1990s, at which point populations in New Hampshire leveled off or decreased slightly. Although now found statewide in winter, the species is a partial migrant here, with some birds from the north leaving in winter and supplementing populations in the south.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Mourning Dove
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count