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Mourning doves are a favorite bird of millions of avian enthusiasts for their low-key beauty and soft, comforting cooing. They have an attractive mix of muted colors, including brown, tan, and gray, and a bit of iridescence on their spotted wings. Interestingly, the male does the vast majority of the cooing you’ll hear when mourning doves come around to feed.
If attracting mourning doves to your yard is your goal, knowing what they like to eat is essential. To help, we compiled a list of foods mourning doves enjoy.
Many bird lovers use bird feeders to attract wild birds to their backyard. While it’s a great idea, you should know that mourning doves are foragers that stick mostly to the ground when searching for food. For that reason, a bird feeder isn’t necessary if mourning doves are the birds you want to attract. All you have to do is spread the food on the ground in your yard.
One thing to know about mourning doves is that they are vegetarians. Unlike birds of prey, mourning doves never hunt but instead are foragers, staying on the ground to find food. Most of that food comes in the form of grass seeds and weed seeds, which are widely available to them in the wild. One of their favorite weed seeds is the Dove weed (aka tropic croton). Several others that mourning doves prefer include:
Although not typically on their diet because they don’t fall on the ground, mourning doves have a soft spot for grains of different types. Often you’ll see mourning doves gather on the ground underneath a bird feeder, eating the grains that have fallen or been pushed out by other birds (and squirrels). The grains most preferred by mourning doves include:
Peanuts are not a typical food source for mourning doves. However, they enjoy peanuts if provided in the correct form. More importantly, peanuts are an excellent source of protein and fat that can benefit mourning doves, especially as winter approaches. If you plan to offer peanuts to the mourning doves in your yard, make sure they are:
Mourning doves are granivores, which means they mostly eat grains and seeds. Occasionally they will also eat insects, vegetables, and fruit if they find them on the ground, where they prefer to search. You can feed mourning doves fruits and veggies if you like, but offering only fruit and veggies isn’t a great way to keep them coming back. Some of the vegetables and fruits mourning doves will eat include:
Although insects are not a favorite of mourning doves, they are foragers and, when presented with the opportunity, will eat several types of insects. That’s why having a yard full of insect life is critical if you want to attract mourning doves. If you use insecticides, you not only take away this food source but also risk poisoning the mourning doves that visit. The insects they eat, if given the opportunity, include:
We’ve seen what mourning doves enjoy eating and what you can give them to attract them to your yard. Now let’s take a quick look at what foods you should not give mourning doves (even though they might eat them). Some of the foods you should avoid giving to mourning doves include:
As we’ve mentioned, mourning doves are foragers that stay on the ground while looking for food. If you want to use a bird feeder to attract mourning doves, a larger, open-platform feeder is best. Also, a bird feeder placed lower to the ground, or hanging lower, is preferred. The reason is that mourning doves have larger wingspans, making smaller bird feeders a problem. They won’t fly to a feeder (in most cases) to get their food like other birds. Hanging a platform feeder under a picnic table works very well.
Attracting mourning doves to your yard is relatively easy and can be very rewarding. While they may come around to get food under a bird feeder, the best method to attract mourning doves is to scatter food in a small area of your yard with low or no grass. Also, always give mourning doves food in the same spot in your yard. In time, they will remember where it is and come back for more. However you decide to attract these lovely birds to your yard, we wish you the best of luck and many hours of avian enjoyment.
Featued Image Credit: DesignTop, Shutterstock
Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.
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