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Doves might not be the most exotic or colorful birds out there, but they have a decent following among birdwatchers. While most birds like to nest up high, doves are completely different from the rest. They like to nest close to the ground and sometimes right on the ground! It’s not what most people think of when they think of bird nests, but it’s where doves build their homes.
But why do doves do it, and what else do we know about doves and their nests? We break it all down for you here.
While many birds build their nests near the tops of buildings or high up in trees, that’s not where doves typically nest. Instead, doves prefer to build their nests closer to the ground.
Out in fields, a dove might build their nest right on the ground, but they might also build their nest in low bushes, vines, stumps, fence posts, thickets, etc. Doves use about anything that they can find to build their nest. Common materials include pine needles, twigs, and even grass!
While doves don’t necessarily use the same nest every year, if they successfully raise a brood from a nesting site, they will return to that site year after year. That means if you have doves successfully lay eggs and raise their young near your house, they should come back the next year.
If the same nest still exists, they might reuse it, but if it’s already occupied or if it has fallen apart throughout the year, they’ll build a new one.
The average dove’s lifespan is only a year and a half, but that’s a distorted statistic because many doves don’t live past their first year of life. That said, at least one wild dove has lived for at least 31 years. Regardless, if a dove nests in one area successfully, you can expect doves there for quite a while.
Doves don’t fly around as much as some other birds, so if you’re trying to attract doves to your yard, it’s important to lay things out for them that are close to the ground. Open platform feeders are excellent for doves, but we also recommend scattering food around on the ground to make it easy for doves to get.
We also recommend adding low-level scenery, like bushes, that doves can climb into for shelter. You can also put a dove bird nest into your yard to make it easy for them to nest when they get there.
Dove nest boxes are completely different than most bird boxes simply because of how close they are to the ground. If they see a low nesting box and food nearby, there’s a good chance that they’ll stop and nest there.
While some birds have short nesting seasons, that’s not the case with doves. In most areas, doves will start nesting in early spring, and some won’t nest until October.
However, if you live in a warm climate, like Florida, it’s not unheard of for a dove to nest in January or February. Doves nest whenever the weather permits, so as soon as it’s warm enough, you can find doves nesting and laying eggs.
While some doves do mate for life, others change mates with each season. Regardless, they all show signs of grief if their partner dies. This is where mourning doves get their name.
Doves will continue to try to care for their deceased partners, and they’ll even visit the spot where they died. However, doves will eventually find a new mate after their previous partner passes.
While dove nesting patterns might be a little unusual for birds in general, with about 475 million doves worldwide and just under 200 million in the United States, they seem to be doing something right!
Just remember that if you’re trying to attract doves to your yard, build a shelter for them that’s close to the ground, and provide low-hanging food and water!
You might also be interested in: 6 Birds That Lay Eggs in Other Birds’ Nests (Brood Parasites)
Featured Image Credit: Innviertlerin, Pixabay
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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