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Mourning Dove Male vs. Female: How to Tell the Difference

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Male vs Female Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is named due to its mournful cooing sound. These can be found throughout North America, ranging from Southern Canada to Central Mexico, making them one of the most populous birds in the country.

Unlike many other bird species, male and female Mourning Doves look similar and can be difficult to tell apart as a result. If you are looking at a Mourning Dove, use this guide to determine if you are looking at males or females.

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Visual Differences

Image Credit: Left (Male Mourning Dove) JackBulmer,Pixabay, Right (Female Mourning Dove) Bernell, Pixabay

At a Glance

Male Mourning Doves
  • Length: 9 –14.2 inches
  • Weight: 28–0.38 pounds
  • Wingspan: 6–17.7 inches
  • Behaviors: Over-the-top and dramatic
  • Morphology: Brighter colors
Female Mourning Doves
  • Length: 9–14.2 inches
  • Weight: 28–0.38 pounds
  • Wingspan: 6–17.7 inches
  • Behaviors: Quiet
  • Morphology: Tan; rounded head

hummingbird divider Male Mourning Doves Overview

a mourning dove bird on a birdhouse
Image By: GeorgiaLens, Pixabay

Whenever you are distinguishing between a male and a female Mourning Dove, it’s best to look at the personality and appearance of the bird. If the bird has vivid colors and a boisterous personality, you are most likely looking at a male. Let’s take a closer look at what male Mourning Doves act and look like.


Male and female Mourning Doves tend to gather and eat in groups. If you watch their behavior, you can tell a male from a female. Males are much more dramatic, over the top, and loud. The males make the loudest cooing sound, especially during mating season. The males also have dramatic displays during courtship, which can include flying around, spreading out their wings, and elaborate displays.


Like most other bird species, male Mourning Doves often have a brighter, more vibrant color, though just slightly. Their bodies are graceful with a bluish-grey crown. They also have a light pink breast area and purple-pink patches on their neck. Males specifically have a much more red or vibrant pink breast area. You can also look at the wings, which are mainly tan and lack black spots.

hummingbird divider Female Mourning Doves Overview

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

Distinguishing a female from a male can be difficult at first. The differences between males and females are subtle. So, you will have to look closely at the bird’s characteristics and appearance to tell the difference. Generally speaking, if the bird is more passive and has black spots on its wings, it is most likely a female.


Female Mourning Doves are much calmer and more reserved than the males. They flock with the males, but they do not coo loudly, and they don’t have dramatic displays. Even during mating season, the female Mourning Doves tend to take a more passive approach, which makes them a lot more reserved and subtle in their behaviors.


If you don’t have time to watch the bird’s behaviors, you can pay attention to their appearances. Female Mourning Doves are about the same size as the males, but they are a bit tanner. Though their breasts are still slightly pink, the pink isn’t quite as vibrant. Likewise, females have subtle black spots on their wings, which tends to be the easiest way to identify the females. Females also have slightly more rounded heads, though the difference is subtle.

hummingbird divider What Are the Differences Between Male and Female Mourning Doves?

If you are trying to tell the difference between a male and female Mourning Dove, the best way to do so is to look for the three following traits.

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

Outlandish Personality

If you notice that the bird has outgoing behavior and is acting very outlandish, you are almost always looking at a male. Males are over the top and make a spectacle of themselves, especially when they are surrounded by a group of other Mourning Doves.

Vibrancy of the Chest

Waiting to see how the birds behave can take a long time to sex the birds properly. A faster way to distinguish a male from a female is to look at the vibrancy of the pink on the chest. Males have a much more pink or red appearance that is bright and forceful. The females have a much more subdued pink color and have more tan on them in general.

Black Spots

The last way to distinguish a male from a female is to look for the black spots. If you do not see black spots on the wing, then the bird is a male. If you see black spots, then it is a female. Looking for these black spots is one of the easiest ways to tell a male from a female.

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Final Thoughts

Using these three factors, you can now learn how to properly sex the Mourning Doves you see in your yard. We’re not going to lie. It will take a bit of time before you can sex Mourning Doves quickly, but you will get there eventually using this guide. Good luck!

Featured Image Credit: (L) Cavan-Images, Shutterstock | (R) Sean R. Stubben, 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.