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How Long Do Mourning Doves Live? (Average Lifespan Data & Facts)

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mourning dove perching

Whether you’re just keeping an eye on the mourning dove in your backyard or want to know more about these interesting birds, you’ve come to the right place. These birds have an average lifespan of 1.5 to 2 years but can live over 30 years!

That’s a huge discrepancy, and it naturally leads to more questions. We answered everything for you here. By the end, you’ll know all about the mourning dove and how long they live.

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What’s the Average Lifespan of Mourning Doves?

While the actual lifespan of a mourning dove varies quite a bit, the average lifespan of a mourning dove is between 1.5 and 2 years.

However, there’s quite a bit of variance here, as the oldest living mourning dove lived over 31 years, and it’s not uncommon for a mourning dove to live 5 years.

mourning dove eating

Image Credit: Mrs. Minard, Shutterstock

Why Do Some Mourning Doves Live Longer Than Others?

There are quite a few reasons that a mourning dove might have a particularly long life, and we break it all down for you here.

1. Nutrition

Nutrition plays a significant role in how long a mourning dove lives. Seeds make up about 99% of a mourning dove’s diet, and they are opportunistic feeders. The higher quality seeds they get, the better their chances of living a long and happy life.

2. Environment and Conditions

Mourning doves nest on the ground and are extremely susceptible to predators. This is why most mourning doves don’t make it a full year. However, if a mourning dove can make it a full calendar year, its average lifespan increases to about 5 years!

mourning dove eating

Image Credit: Frennet Studio, Shutterstock

3. Enclosure Size/Living Quarters/Housing

Mourning doves nest on the ground, so they need a secluded and safe place where they can set up. They don’t need much space, but finding a location on the ground that gives them adequate protection dramatically increases their chances of survival.

4. Size

Mourning doves aren’t that large to begin with, and the truth is that a mourning dove’s size doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on how long they live.

mourning doves perching

Image Credit: Ansel B, Shutterstock

5. Sex

Since both male and female mourning doves take on parenting duties and mate for life, there’s not a significant difference between the lifespan of a male mourning dove and a female one. They display extremely similar behaviors and have the same average lifespan.

6. Genes

While we can’t give you an exact breakdown of how genes affect a mourning dove’s likelihood of survival, Darwinism plays a role here. Sickly or weak mourning doves simply won’t survive long in the wild.

Mourning Dove drinking on the fountain

Image Credit: Tony Quinn, Shutterstock

7. Breeding History

Mourning doves often return to the same location to lay their eggs and mate, so if they’re lucky enough to find a safe location one season, there’s a good chance that they can have multiple successful mating seasons.

This is especially true because mourning doves mate for life, so if they find a mate in the first season, they likely won’t need to find another mate for the next.

8. Healthcare

Wild mourning doves don’t have access to healthcare, which impacts their average lifespan. This and plenty of predators is why a wild mourning dove only lives for 1.5 to 2 years, while a captive mourning dove often lives over 20 years!

hummingbird dividerThe 5 Life Stages of a Mourning Doves

If you’re tracking the lifespan of a mourning dove, there are five different life stages that you need to be aware of.

1. Embryonic Stage

As the name implies, this is when the mourning dove is still in the egg. This is a quick process, taking about 14 days. Both mother and father will take turns incubating the eggs during this period.

blackbird's eggs in the nest

Image Credit: foto-augenblick, Pixabay

2. Hatchlings

Hatchlings will stay in the nest for about 15 days. That means in just 1 month, a mourning dove goes from egg to a bird outside the nest!

3. Juvenile

Once a mourning dove leaves the nest, that doesn’t mean they’re all alone. For the next 1 or 2 weeks, they hang out around the nest for food. They’re out “on their own” at this point, but they’re still getting support.

4. Young Adult

The first year of a mourning dove’s life is often the hardest. They’re not sexually mature at this age and spend most of their time simply trying to find food and survive.

mourning dove on bird feeder

Image Credit: DesignTop, Shutterstock

5. Mature Adult

After a mourning dove makes it through their first calendar year, they’re a sexually mature adult. Once they reach this age, their average lifespan dramatically increases to about 5 years.


How to Tell a Mourning Dove’s Age

You can really only tell if a mourning dove is a first-year or a second-year adult or later, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to decipher.

What you’re watching for is when their primary feathers fall out. If their primary feathers fall off early in the summer, before the end of the first week of May, they’re a second-year bird.

However, if they keep their primary feathers until after that date, they’re a hatchling in their first year of life.

hummingbird dividerConclusion

Now that you know more about the mourning dove, the next time that you see one fluttering around your backyard, you can have more appreciation for them.

Perhaps they just left the nest a month or two ago, or they might be coming back for their fifth or sixth season! They’re interesting birds, and it’s not hard to see why they’re often a bird watcher’s favorite.


Featured Image Credit: Bonnie Taylor Barry, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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