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How to Attract Mourning Doves to Your Yard – 6 Possible Ways

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mourning dove perching

The mourning dove is usually a welcome addition if you’re into bird watching in your backyard. Unlike many other wild birds, this dove is a little harder to attract. But with a few steps, you can increase your chances of having them visit if they’re around.

Mourning doves will not be the only thing attracted by the steps below. However, all six of these possible ways to attract the doves are specifically enjoyed by mourning doves. So, they will give you the best chance at bringing these delightful birds into your yard. 

How to Attract Mourning Doves to Your Yard – 6 Possible Ways

When trying to attract a specific bird to your yard—or any animal, for that matter—it’s best to employ several methods simultaneously. For example, with these six ways to attract mourning doves, it’s realistic to be able to use at least five of them, probably all six.

1. Food

mourning dove eating
Image Credit: Frennet Studio, Shutterstock

Mourning doves are seed eaters rather than bug or insect eaters. So, providing the right seeds is one key to bringing these birds to your yard. By looking at a mourning dove’s beak, you’ll notice it’s quite small. Large seeds that require cracking or shelling are not ideal for these petite birds.

Here are four of their favorite seeds:

  • Safflower seeds: many other birds don’t like these seeds, so your new friends won’t have to share as much.
  • White proso millet: You can’t typically buy this seed by itself because it’s usually in mixes.
  • Cracked corn: Mourning doves can’t eat full corn kernels due to size, but cracked corn is a favorite. Essentially, this is chopped-up corn kernels, and it’s super inexpensive.
  • Sunflower seeds (shelled): Being shelled is merely a preference because a mourning dove is capable of swallowing a sunflower seed whole with the shell. However, they seem to prefer them shelled. The nice thing about sunflower seeds is that they are universally enjoyed by many wild birds.

2. Water

Image Credit: birdbath2_Pamula REEVES-BARKER, Pixabay

Food is a great start but having their favorite foods is only part of the picture. If you’re already planning on landscaping, adding a water feature like a pond or fountain is a great way to provide water for birds and other critters.

However, if that’s not an option, putting out a birdbath is a low-cost way to provide water to attract mourning doves. Because they prefer being close to the ground, a ground birdbath is their preferred place to drink.

3. Feeder

mourning dove on bird feeder
Image Credit: Tony Quinn, Shutterstock

In some ways, a mourning dove is picky where it eats, but in others, it’s not. For example, tube feeders or feeders with small perches are unsuitable for most doves in general due to their physical size and flexibility. However, simply scattering handfuls of seeds on the ground is an acceptable way to attract the doves.

If you want to actually have a feeder, a mourning dove prefers medium or large platform or tray feeders. Large hoppers feeders with big perches also work okay.

4. Large Trees

mourning dove perching
Image Credit: Piqsels

Mourning doves are like most other birds because they enjoy trees’ safety and cover. If you want mourning doves to visit, it pays to have some large trees in your yard. Also, making sure the branches are accessible for these larger birds by doing some pruning is a good idea.

Another thing to keep in mind with tree cover is ensuring that the feeder is placed near cover to help protect the mourning doves from other predator birds.

5. Natural Food Sources

Image Credit: Piqsels

Mourning doves can benefit greatly if you’re thinking ahead when planning your landscaping. Instead of buying bird seed, you can incorporate natural food sources for mourning doves into your plan. And you could also include trees for safety and a nice water feature.

In addition to possibly attracting mourning doves, this will also begin creating a mini-ecosystem in your yard, which is great for the environment.

6. Nest Making Materials

mourning dove sleeping
Image Credit: daledbet, Pixabay

If mourning doves are the birds you want spending time in your yard, then leaving things around for them to make nests is important. This doesn’t mean you need to leave a bunch of garbage lying around. It’s as simple as leaving some twigs or small branches around the trees and leaving some long grass clippings. All these small materials are used by doves—and other birds—in their nest-making.

eagle divider Interesting Facts About Mourning Doves

Here are a few things you may find interesting about mourning doves.

Mating For Life

There aren’t a lot of animals in the world that mate for life, but mourning doves often do. It’s reasonably common to see these cute birds cuddling in pairs on branches. In addition to mating for life, they both actually play a role in raising their babies, which is also a little uncommon in the animal kingdom.

two mourning doves perched
Image Credit: MiniMe-70, Pixabay

Commonly Hunted

Not only are mourning doves prime eating for many larger birds of prey but they are also hunted quite often by cats. That’s another thing to think about when trying to attract them is figuring out how to keep cats away. In addition, mourning doves are hunted for sport in many places as well. Fortunately, they are not in danger of going extinct because there are still a lot of doves around.


Mourning doves can be found almost everywhere in North America. You’re less likely to find them in the northern parts of Canada and only seasonally in the rest of the country. However, in most of the states, it’s normal to see mourning doves year-round.

mourning dove perched on a branch
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Closing Thoughts

There’s no guarantee that a specific bird species will make a home or even visit your yard. This is especially true because many birds actually like the same things. However, catering as many things as possible towards a specific bird, such as mourning doves, will increase the chances they choose your yard if they are in the area.

Featured Image Credit: Bonnie Taylor Barry, Shutterstock

About the Author Shea Cummings

Shea Cummings is a passionate content writer who believes that the power of words is immeasurable. He leverages years of experience in various trades such as carpentry, photography, and electrical to bring his articles to life. His goal is to provide his readers with information that delights and informs. When he's not writing you can find him spending time in the outdoors or playing some Minecraft on the Xbox with his wife and two sons.