Whenever Sharie and I listen to calls of the mourning dove, a sense of peace and belonging is evoked. Their lives are an expression of beauty and grace. We believe these gentlest of birds can help us uncloak the nature of our human hearts.
Mourning doves are abundant within Saskatchewan’s Last Mountain Lake Wildlife Area. Their calls and the sounds made by their powerful wings captured our attention. These birds can reach speeds of 40 to 55 mph (65 to 88 kph). When flushed from their nests, explosive take-offs involve intense whistling sounds from their wings. Surely this frightens many would-be predators. In order to distract predators, adults may feign broken wings as they flutter on the ground.
During breeding season calls of the males begin at dawn. Calls move from one bird’s territory to the next. These concerts are heavenly.
Mourning doves have adapted to most habitats in southern Saskatchewan with the exception of marshes and dense forests. They primarily eat native and cultivated seeds. Our abundant supply of their preferred foods, shelter belts for nesting and ample water meet their needs perfectly. Brackish water is also tolerated.
Couples are monogamous. They’re devoted to one another and lovingly preen each other’s feathers. This ritual includes interludes of “billing” after the male offers his open beak in a gesture similar to feeding youngsters. Their cooperation during nesting is unwavering.
Forks in mature aspen are often chosen as nesting sites in Saskatchewan. The female weaves the nest as her mate delivers twigs and other available materials. Nests are loosely knit making eggs visible from below. Most clutches contain two eggs. The nest is always attended by the male or female. Incubation lasts 14 to 16 days.
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