Creation: Rain Dove

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Zenaida macroura

Rain DoveThe Rain Dove (Zenaida macroura), better known as Mourning Dove, is also called the Turtle Dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina Pigeon or Carolina Turtledove.

It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year.

The Mourning Dove’s plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name. Their wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 55 mph!

Rain Doves are muted in color — of light grey and brown. Males and females are similar in appearance. This is a medium-sized, slender dove approximately 12 inches in length and weighing 4.0–6.0 oz. They have perching feet, with three toes forward and one reversed.

The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. These doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk — a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to young birds. 

Here are pics I took last May of a pair of Rain Doves under a dwarf Japanese maple in our back rock garden. They didn’t fly away although I was no more than a foot away from them.

Can you spot the doves in the first pic? LOL


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0 responses to “Creation: Rain Dove

  1. Cool pics. We have 3 kinds here, the mourning, the spotted and the striped dove. I keep a bird bath filled, 3 times a day and they love it. I used to feed them, but the Java Sparrows took over and if I was just a little late filling the feeder the doves would come up on the back porch and stare in the screen door at me. We can draws several kinds of birds and love it.

  2. We have these by the dozens in our yard and on our deck. They are the funniest of creatures in the ways they chase one other around our deck railing. Usually they are fine, but daily they fly into the back part of our house, which is mostly glass.

  3. Thanks for posting this about the doves–we’ve always called them mourning doves, so it was nice to find out their alternative names–rain dove sounds quite a bit better to me than mourning dove–we have had several pairs of them nesting in our big evergreens over the years–at least until recently–I haven’t seen them this year and miss them–the same goes for the cardinals that used to frequent our yard–they’d been missing up until this year when I spotted a female cardinal–she’s been back here several times this summer–it was a relief to finally see one, though!–wish the doves would return–I never knew they were killed for food–that was a shocker–squab?!–I will remember that, and be sure to never eat one!

    • I had not known their alternate name until I looked them up on Wiki for this post. Like you, Christine, I too prefer “Rain Dove” to “Mourning Dove”!

      • I grew up eating dove that my Mississippi grandmother pan-fried. Never gave it a second thought. Now, I would never want to eat one of my precious birds that we daily enjoy.

  4. Good on you, Eo, for allowing them to nest on your grounds! Far too many city people see them as a nuisance and chase them away. Yet they are perfect, just as the Creation is perfect!

  5. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this beautiful post. These rain doves are so wonderful! I have a dove as well, but my little Lucy is not a rain dove. She is a much smaller dove (diamond dove). She also coos and makes little cute and comforting sounds.

  6. They are daily guests at my birdfeeder, which I hung right in front of the window in order to be able to see them from indoors. What lovely, gentle creatures!


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