Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

  • Migratory bird
  • Comes through the Southeast in early fall through winter; some remain in Mississippi year-round
  • Require fields and open ground for food and trees or tall shrubs for nesting

Species Description: Mourning Dove

Mourning doves are found year-round in Mississippi in a variety of habitats such as grasslands,
farmlands, open woods and roadsides. They feed almost exclusively on plants and seeds from
agricultural crops, native grasses and weeds. Insects are occasionally included in their diet. They
primarily obtain food on open ground and will not scratch for seeds.

Mourning doves nest in trees or tall shrubs about 15 feet from the ground. Ideal nesting sites
provide warmth in the winter, shade in the summer and cover from predators. They always nest
in close proximity to ponds, puddles or streams with little vegetation. Less vegetation allows
them more easily access drinking water while watching for predators.

Doves have a high mortality rate similar to that of other small game wildlife species. About 15
percent can be hunted without significantly impacting their population. Mourning doves’ main
predators include raccoons, hawks, owls, squirrels, snakes, cats and dogs.

Mississippi State University Publications

Mourning Dove Management for Landowners


Mourning Dove Management for Landowners (PDF)

Mississippi State University Extension Service, Natural Resource Enterprises

Managing fields for mourning dove hunting is a relatively cost effective natural-resource based enterprise that does not require large amounts of land. This publication discusses the population, mating habits and life history of mourning doves. Habitat requirements and food needs are covered as well planting food plots. Information on purchasing liability insurance and hunting regulations is provided as well as appropriate fees for hunting leases.

Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast - Food Plots

Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast (PDF)
Mississippi State University Extension Service

This guide provides information on food plots and habitat management practices including disking, mowing and prescribed burning.  The importance of openings is also discussed. A combination of supplemental forages in food planting is often necessary, as well as testing soil quality, fertilizing and liming. The location, size and shape of food plots as well as how to prepare them and which plants to use is included. An extensive guide on planting materials is given.

Other Publications

Mourning Doves (PDF)
Clemson Extension

A description of the biology and habitat of the mourning dove is provided. This publication provides instructions on building a nesting platform for mourning doves to enable you to watch doves. Instructions on establishing and managing dove fields for hunting is also given.