Mourning Doves

Mourning Dove (Zenaida maeroura)

I went into my garden to find beauty. This Mourning Dove sat quietly and calmly beneath the tube feeders. Perhaps it was waiting for the songbirds to drop seeds they don’t want from the tube feeder onto the ground. The Doves could then eat the dropped seeds.

Mourning Dove (Zenaida maeroura)

After a moment or two, I noticed the chest feathers on this bird’s breast. The ruffled feathers are just over the bare spot birds have. The feathers overlap and cover a spot which has no feathers on it. I think all birds that incubate eggs have these bare spots. The bare skin transfers body heat to the eggs, helping to warm them.

Mourning Doves have chicks from February until November. They don’t have to wait until the insects and spiders are abundant like other birds.

The sound of cooing signals the mating and courtship of a pair of Doves.

From the ruffled appearance of the breast feathers, I assume that this bird is incubating eggs. If this is true, then this bird might be a female as males incubate during the day and females during the night.

Mourning Doves feed their young a form of milk they make in their crop. It is called “pigeon milk” or crop milk. Both male and female doves make this milk. It is secreted by the crop lining. The milk is an extremely nutritious food with more protein and fat than is found in either cow’s milk or human milk.

Flamingos also produce a milk-like substance to feed their young.

The young doves insert their beaks into the corner of their parents mouths. This action stimulates the parents to produce the milk.

The chicks are fed this milk for five to ten days after hatching and then they are gradually introduced to a diet of regurgitated seeds or fruit.

The Earth is a fascinating and mysterious place, where birds make milk and chipmunks sleep through the winter.

To read more about Mourning Doves visit Cornell Lab of Ornithology  of Birds website.

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