Dove, that is, named for its plaintive call. Actually it sounds more like romantic cooing to me.
We are located at the very northern tip of the Mourning Dove’s winter range and usually don’t see them here this time of year, especially if there is snow on the ground. A small flock of about 6 birds has been visiting the bird feeders for the past few days, and perched in the tree right outside my porch window for several minutes.
As members of the pigeon family, Mourning Doves exhibit some unique characteristics not seen in songbirds.
They typically feed voraciously on the ground, consuming huge numbers of a variety of seeds, which are stored in a pouch of the esophagus (the crop) until they fly up to a protected roost and begin digesting them. A record 17,200 bluegrass seeds was found in one bird’s crop according to the Cornell bird lab website. The crop is a glandular organ that becomes secretory in the breeding season, and produces a rich milk that is regurgitated and fed to very young chicks before they can digest a seed diet.
Mourning Doves (and all pigeons) drink by submerging their head and bill almost up to eye level and using their throat muscles to pump water into the digestive tract. This is quite unlike songbirds that “dip and tilt” their beaks to collect a mouthful of water and then passively let the water run down into their throats.
Mourning Doves are found in almost every habitat in North America. Because they are such strong flyers, they can survive in arid desert habitats by flying long distances to water holes, utilizing brackish water with high mineral content that humans could not drink.