Dove Eggs: How Long Do They Take To Hatch, How You Can Help And More!

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Nov 02, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Jan 20, 2022
Dove eggs in the nest.

The mourning dove (Zenaida Macroura) is one of the most beloved birds of all time.

The most striking characteristic of the dove is its sound. The dove's coo may sound depressing, but it actually heralds the start of the nesting, territorial claiming, and rearing of young habits of this species.

This is one of the most common birds from southern Canada to central Mexico and the habitats of these birds are in forest grasslands and open woodlands. Farms, towns, open woods, roadside vistas, and meadows are all part of the landscape.

In temperate regions of North America, woodland clearings, farmland, suburbs, prairies, and deserts are just a few examples of open or semi-open habitats where they can be found. It's most frequent in edge habitats with trees and open ground, but it can also be found in treeless places.

Mourning doves are approximately 12 in (30.48 cm) in length and slimmer than pigeons. Mourning doves' gray patch on the head and a delicate gray-brown body are prominent characteristics. They have a single black mark behind and below their eyes, as well as black dots on their wings.

Mourning dove populations dropped by roughly 15% between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Doves are abundant across the continent and have generally thrived as people populated the area.

Some stay through the winter throughout most of their breeding territory, while many migrate south in the winter from northern locations. The majority of migration occurs during the day, in flocks.

These birds usually build their nest on a branch of an evergreen, orchard tree, mesquite, cottonwood, or vine tree with dense foliage. They nest on the ground more than they do on any tree, especially in the West. The mourning dove isn't bothered by humans and will nest on gutters, eaves, or abandoned equipment.


How long does a dove sit on its eggs?

The nest of the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) species is frequently made in plant and flower pots hanging from the ceiling or other man-made structures.

The mourning dove's nest typically has two eggs. It's virtually always two eggs when they lay them- single eggs, as well as larger clutches, are uncommon.

The incubation period for mourning dove eggs is only two weeks (14 days). In one season, the mourning dove parents may have up to five or six broods of baby mourning doves.

Unlike most birds, these doves incubate their eggs on a regular basis. Because the male and female birds are so similar, it appears that the eggs are incubated by the same bird the entire time.

In reality, the male dove works the day shift while the female dove works the night shift. If you are not present during the transition, the same bird looks to have remained on the nest the whole time.

When it comes to feeding the baby doves in the nest, adults generate 'crop milk', an antioxidant-rich liquid secreted in their mouths by both males and females. The lipid and protein content of the milk is likewise significant. While the young broods are still in the nest, both parents participate in feeding the broods this creamy material.

If there is insufficient calcium in the bird's diet then the bird lays unhealthy, abnormal eggs from which the chick is unable to grow.

What month do doves lay eggs?

The adult mourning dove starts building its nest as early as March. It takes two to four days to complete.

The breeding season is from April through July, however, they might breed as late as October in some locations. They may begin their first nest as early as March, even in the extreme north. Doves may start nesting as early as February or even January in the southern regions.

Female adult mourning doves typically lay two eggs per brood. The eggs or young ones fall out of the nests because they are so delicate. As a result, doves may have an impulse to attempt again and again to ensure that they rear enough young to ensure the species' survival.

Soft-shelled eggs are those that are generally deposited without a shell. The egg's hardshell never formed around it, leaving only the strong inner membrane to protect the albumen (egg white) and yolk.

Even if fertilized, this egg is abnormal, soft, and incapable of producing a chick. This condition is caused by a deficit of calcium in the female adult dove's diet. Crushed oyster shells can be fed to domestic birds on a regular basis.

Additionally, due to egg handling errors, they have a lower chance of hatching than when they are left alone. When eggs are washed, they lose their ability to resist infection, resulting in the death of the young birds.

A cute mourning dove in a nest.

How long does it take for turtle dove eggs to hatch?

The preferred place of habitat for these birds is open woodlands where they can feed on seeds. Mostly a bird of the open country prefers scattered trees, and forest borders, but big flocks roost in woodlots in the winter.

The nest is usually located in the crotch of a plant or tree, 5-25 ft (1.5-7.62 m) above the ground. Laying two white eggs that take 14-15 days to incubate. When the chick hatch, the adults will continuously brood them for four to five days.

The adult male dove is more than happy to take over incubation after the eggs have been placed. It usually relieves its partner about mid-morning, allowing it to go have some rest. The hatching of chicks happens after two weeks of incubation.

Mourning doves that have successfully raised a brood will return to the same nesting place year after year, regardless of whether or not they migrate.

Why do doves abandon their eggs?

Doves are famous for abandoning their nest. If they are threatened by predators, whether human or animal, they may abandon both eggs and nestlings and go somewhere else to nest. So bird watchers should be careful not to disturb nesting doves.

Mourning doves are less likely to do this since they normally only lay two eggs and take turns sitting on the nest after it begins incubating. If one of the birds dies, the nest is more likely to be abandoned because one parent is unable to manage it alone.

When do baby doves leave the nest?

Below are some interesting facts about birds and their nesting habits

When the baby doves hatch, the adults will continue to brood them for four to five days. It's possible that you won't realize the eggs in the nest have hatched during this period.

If the weather cooperates, the parents will begin to leave the chicks alone by day six or seven, usually for extended periods of time.

By day 9-10, night brooding ceases, and the young have left the nest by day 12-14.

sDuring the season, pairs stay together (monogamous), and some may pair up again in subsequent seasons. Spring can be hazardous to dove bird nests. Spring heatwaves endanger baby dove birds in the nest.

Moving Dove Nests

It's essential to allow an adult wild bird's nest plenty of room when you come upon one. Do not disturb or change the nest's habitat.

Aside from providing direct care for the eggs and young birds, the adult parents must also protect their nests from wild predators. Nest robbers, such as magpies and jays, devour around a third of the eggs and nearly half of the chick in a typical season.

A federal statute protects birds and their nests, making it illegal to relocate an occupied nest. You can, however, remove the nest while it is being built.

The issue is that adult mourning doves are excellent parents but terrible nest builders. It's difficult to tell when their nests are finished because they've been known to lay down a couple of twigs and call it a day.

Hold a five-day-incubated egg in one hand and beam a strong spotlight behind it with the other. Veins can be seen beneath the shell of a viable egg.

Under the light, an infertile egg is transparent and veinless. It's difficult to see the veins before the fifth day of incubation, thus a false negative is possible. Cracked or broken eggs are eggs that have been cracked or broken in some way.

If the tiny mourning dove egg is cracked or broken, the nascent blood vessels will stop growing. These eggs are not going to hatch.

To encourage the birds to nest in a safer spot, consider erecting a nesting box for them to utilize in the future. The dove bird loves to feed on seeds, especially millet.

Doves eat their food both on the ground and in open areas. The seeds should be scattered near the ground or on platform feeders for them to eat.

They're simple to manufacture. To create nesting locations in your yard, plant thick bushes or evergreen trees. This kind of setup attracts the mourning dove towards the bird feeders.

Build A Nest Structure For Mourning Doves

The way the adult morning doves pair do their nesting is quite interesting to look at!

Males fly upwards with loud wingbeats during courtship and then glide in a lengthy circular glide, wings fully extended and slightly bowed down. On the ground, a stiff male approaches a female, bowing and cooing forcefully.

As a pair-bonding ritual, members of a pair preen each other with delicate nibbles around the neck. The pair will eventually grab beaks and bobble their heads up and down in sync.

The male dove bird leads the female to potential nesting sites. The female dove then selects the nesting site she will use.

Often the dove pair reuse old nests. The adult male guides the female dove to potential nesting places, and she selects one. The nesting site is normally in trees or shrubs, occasionally near the ground, seldom on a building ledge or other structure; usually lower than 25-40 ft (7.62-12.19 m).

This nest is usually a frail assembly of pine needles, twigs, and grass stalks. The male takes twigs to the female for two to four days, passing them to her, and while standing on her back; the female weaves them into an 8 in (20.3 cm) wide nest. Mourning doves re-use their own or other species' nests on occasion.

To attract a breeding pair, consider erecting a nesting cone. Make sure it's up well ahead of the breeding season.

It's crucial to figure out what stage a newborn mourning dove, or any other abandoned bird, is in when you find it on the ground. If the bird is a nestling, simply pick it from the ground and place it in its habitat if it is nearby.

Did You Know...

Mourning doves are ubiquitous across the continent and have typically thrived as people have occupied the area, but according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, populations dropped by roughly 15% between 1966 and 2015.

Partners in Flight estimates that there are 120 million breeding birds in the world, with 81% spending part of the year in the USA, 19% in Mexico, and 5% in Canada.

Mourning doves are more prevalent in the USA. Another extremely common species found in the USA is the white-winged dove.

The Continental Concern Score for this species is 5/20. The 2014 State of the Birds Watch List does not include the mourning dove.

Mourning doves are the most popular game bird in the USA, with hunters shooting over 20 million each year. Because of the birds' appeal, game managers keep a close eye on their numbers in order to set hunting restrictions.

Mourning doves appear to do well in the face of hunting pressure, but they also suffer from lead poisoning, which is less evident. Mourning doves hunt on the ground, and in extensively hunted areas, they may ingest lead shot that has fallen to the ground (records show some doves have eaten up to 43 pellets).

According to studies, the problem is worse around areas that are specifically cultivated to attract doves, and roughly one out of every 20 pigeons eats lead.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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