As birdwatchers, we’ve often found ourselves drawn to the humble abodes of mourning doves, pausing in quiet respect for their unassuming beauty and pondering the circle of life nestled within those woven twigs.

I have devoted uncounted hours watching over these serene creatures, chronicling their routines and witnessing the tender emergence of new generations from carefully constructed cradles high up in the trees.

With an affectionate eye on the ebb and flow of avian life, my journey into understanding these graceful members of the pigeon family has unearthed insights that could intrigue even veteran bird lovers.

Ever noticed how a typical mourning dove’s nest is likely to house just two eggs? This precise figure isn’t a whimsical choice but rather a testament to nature’s intricate design for sustainability and attentive rearing.

Journey with me as we explore deeper into the captivating existence of mourning doves—the rhythm of their nesting habits, their unwavering commitment as parents, and why this modest duo of eggs holds profound significance for our winged companions’ lineage.

Together let’s unearth what truly sets these birds apart in nature’s tapestry.

Key Takeaways

  • Mourning doves usually lay two eggs in a nest and can have up to six broods each year.
  • Their eggs are plain white, small in size, and take about 14 to 15 days to hatch.
  • Both parents care for the eggs by taking turns sitting on them and then feed the baby doves with pigeon milk followed by seeds as they grow.

Mourning Dove Life History

Mourning doves typically have a clutch size of 2 eggs and can raise up to 6 broods in a year. The eggs are small, measuring about 1.2 inches in length and 0.9 inches in width, and the incubation period lasts for about two weeks.

Clutch size and number of broods

Mourning doves are quite the busy parents. They can lay up to two eggs in a single nest and do this many times throughout the year. Sometimes, they might have as many as five or six rounds of new baby doves.

This is a lot compared to other birds!

The nests fill up fast since they usually lay two eggs at each turn. With up to six clutches every year, that means a whole bunch of dove babies! Their ability to raise so many broods makes them one of the most prolific breeders among North American birds.

Egg characteristics (length, width)

When I peer into a nest of mourning doves, I’m always struck by the simplicity of their eggs. They’re plain and white, lacking any flamboyant colors or marks. Yet, it’s their size that often piques my interest.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the dimensions of these modest avian treasures:

Egg Characteristic Measurement
Length Approximately 2.6 centimeters (1.02 inches)
Width Approximately 2.0 centimeters (0.79 inches)

These eggs won’t win any beauty contests, but their pure whiteness and very little gloss make them distinctive in their own right. They’re a testament to the unembellished beauty of nature, and a reminder of the beginnings of one of North America’s most prolific birds.

Incubation period

Now, let’s talk about the incubation period of mourning doves. Mourning doves typically sit on their eggs for about 14 to 15 days before they hatch. During this time, the parent birds take turns keeping the eggs warm and protected in the nest.

The pure white eggs are tended by both male and female mourning doves until they hatch into tiny squabs.

Once the eggs hatch, the parents continue to care for their young in the nest for another two weeks. After this short but intense period of nurturing, these baby doves are then ready to leave the nest.

Nesting and Egg-Laying of Mourning Doves

Mourning doves typically lay 2 eggs per clutch, but in some cases, they may lay up to 3 or 4 eggs. They can have up to 6 broods in a year, and the female will lay eggs every 1-2 months during the nesting season.

Number of eggs per clutch

Mourning doves lay two white eggs in a clutch, usually on a flimsy nest made with twigs and grass. They may have up to six clutches per year, each containing the usual two eggs. This means that mourning doves can potentially produce up to 12 offspring in a single year, making them one of the most prolific nesting birds in North America.

Number of broods in a year

Mourning doves can have up to five or six broods of baby doves in a single year, making them one of the most prolific nesting birds in North America. They may lay up to six clutches per year, with each clutch typically containing two eggs.

Unlike many other bird species, mourning doves are known for their high reproductive rate and ability to produce multiple broods during the breeding season. This prolific nesting behavior is an interesting aspect of their life cycle that sets them apart from other avian species.

Now let’s delve into how often they lay eggs and what happens during the incubation period.

How often they lay eggs

After mourning doves have raised their broods, they quickly start the process again. Mourning doves can lay eggs as often as every month, with multiple clutches in a season. They may even begin another clutch before the previous one has left the nest.

It’s not unusual for a pair of mourning doves to raise several sets of young in a single breeding season.

With their quick nesting cycle and prolific breeding habits, mourning doves are known for their frequent egg-laying behavior, making them one of the most productive avian species in North America.

Caring for Mourning Dove Eggs and Baby Doves

The incubation and hatching process for mourning dove eggs takes about 14 days, after which the parents provide constant care to their young until they are ready to leave the nest.

To learn more about how mourning doves care for their eggs and baby doves, read on in this blog!

Incubation and hatching process

Mourning doves lay two eggs per clutch. The incubation period lasts for 14 to 15 days. During this time:

  1. The male and female mourning doves take turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm.
  2. The parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs, with each taking turns in a coordinated manner.
  3. Both parents produce a special type of milk in their crops to feed their young ones during the first few days after hatching.
  4. After hatching, the chicks stay in the nest for about 12 to 14 days before they fledge and leave the nest.
  5. Once hatched, both parents continue to care for and feed their young until they are ready to fend for themselves.

Parental care

Parental care of mourning doves is remarkable. Both parents take turns to incubate the eggs for about two weeks, ensuring they are safe and warm. After hatching, both parents continue to protect and feed their babies, regurgitating food for them to eat.

The young doves stay in the nest for about 12 to 14 days until they are ready to leave.

The dedication of mourning dove parents is evident as they tirelessly care for their offspring until they can fend for themselves. This nurturing behavior showcases the strong bond between the adult doves and their young ones, ensuring the survival and growth of each new generation of these beautiful birds.

Time in the nest

When in the nest, mourning dove eggs take about 14 to 15 days to hatch. The adult doves incubate the eggs and then continue to care for the baby doves once they hatch. Baby doves stay in the nest for about 11 to 15 days before fledging, which means they are ready to leave the nest and begin exploring their environment.

During this time, both parent birds take turns keeping the babies warm and feeding them regurgitated crop milk. This nutritious substance is produced by both parents in their crops and provides essential nutrients for the growing chicks.

After about two weeks in the nest, the young doves will be fully feathered and able to fly, making them ready to leave their cozy home in search of independence.

Diet of young doves

When young doves hatch, they are fed with “pigeon milk” that is produced by the adult birds. This pigeon milk is a secretion from the lining of the parent birds’ crops, and it’s rich in fat and protein, which provides essential nutrients for the growing nestlings.

As the nestlings grow, their diet shifts to include partially digested seeds directly from their parents’ beaks as well.

The transition to solid food happens gradually as the young doves get older, and they eventually start pecking at seeds provided by their parents. The key role of both parents in feeding and caring for the young doves ensures their healthy growth before they fledge from the nest.

Commonly Asked Questions about Mourning Dove Eggs and Nesting

– How long do mourning doves sit on their eggs before they hatch?

– Do mourning doves mate for life? Find out the answers to these and more commonly asked questions about mourning dove nesting habits.

How long do doves sit on their eggs?

Mourning doves sit on their eggs for 14 to 15 days. During this time, they incubate the eggs, keeping them warm and safe until they hatch. It’s important for the eggs to remain undisturbed during this period for the best chance of successful hatching.

While sitting on their eggs, mourning doves are highly attentive, taking breaks only occasionally to feed and hydrate. This nurturing behavior helps ensure the survival of their offspring once the eggs hatch.

Do mourning doves mate for life?

Mourning doves are monogamous, meaning they usually stay with one mate for a long time. They can choose the same partner year after year. But sometimes, if something happens to their mate, they will find a new one rather quickly.

This behavior aligns with their high reproductive rate and multiple broods per year. Mourning doves build strong bonds with their mates when it comes to nesting and raising young ones.

Such pairs work together to care for eggs and chicks during each breeding season.

Why do baby doves die?

Baby doves can die due to various reasons. Sometimes, the nest gets destroyed or disturbed by predators such as snakes or other birds, leading to the eggs or chicks being harmed. Additionally, extreme weather conditions like heavy rain and cold temperatures can also endanger the survival of the baby doves.

Furthermore, if adult mourning doves don’t have enough food to feed their young ones or if they face health issues themselves, it can lead to a higher mortality rate among baby doves.

What do baby doves eat?

After baby doves hatch, they are fed on ‘pigeon milk‘, a nutritious secretion produced in the crops of adult doves. It is regurgitated to feed the squabs and is rich in fat and protein, providing essential nutrients for their rapid growth.

As they grow, the parents gradually introduce seeds into their diet as well. This helps them transition to an adult diet which mainly consists of seeds.

The diet of baby doves primarily comprises pigeon milk initially with a gradual introduction of seeds by their parents once they start growing.

Nesting habits of mourning doves.

When young doves leave the nest, mourning doves may start building their next nest right away. I observed that these birds are prolific breeders and build nests multiple times a year.

A female adult mourning dove may have up to five or six broods of baby doves. The nesting frequency is quite high – they can have up to six clutches per year with a typical clutch size of two eggs.

It’s impressive to note that this prolific number of nesting cycles sets mourning doves apart from other North American bird species.

Mourning doves build nests quickly, possibly due to the need to lay eggs and begin incubation. Interestingly, it is not uncommon for something to happen to the eggs immediately after laying, indicating the potential risks involved in this aspect of their breeding behavior.


To sum up, mourning doves typically lay two eggs in a nest. These birds are prolific breeders, often having multiple broods each year with the largest number of nesting cycles among North American birds.

The eggs are plain white and have a short incubation period of about 14 to 15 days before hatching. It’s fascinating to observe the nesting habits and reproductive behavior of these graceful doves in our natural surroundings.

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