Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mourning Dove

If you live in North America, I'm sure you've met today's animal before. This is the Mourning Dove, or Turtledove, or Carolina Pigeon, or Rain Dove... It goes by a whole lot of names. These members of the Columbidae family are some of the most widespread and abundant birds in North America, boasting a range of over 11 million square miles!

Mourning Doves spend a whole lot of time eating. They forage on the ground, storing up as many seeds as possible in their crop (there can literally be thousands of seeds in there!) In a single day, a Mourning Dove can eat 20% of their body weight. Seeds make up nearly 99% of their diet, but they aren't especially picky about the type of seed. This helps them to survive and spread into different habitats. The Doves are even able to live in deserts, thanks to their ability to drink incredibly brackish water!

Another cause for their large population and extensive range is their nesting behavior. Banding studies suggest that Mourning Doves mate for life, and during a single season each pair can raise three to six broods! The common brood size is two eggs, and they hatch after only 2 weeks. The offspring are fed crop milk, and fledge at around 11-15 days (fast growers!)

Needless to say, their huge range and massive population size has kept the birds from being in any sort of conservation danger. In the United States it is estimated that there are more than 350 million of them, and around 20 million are harvested as game every year.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Body Length up to 12in (30cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Columbiformes
Family : Columbidae -- Genus : Zenaida -- Species : Z. macroura

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