Index of Species Information

WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Zenaida macroura


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1993. Zenaida macroura. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ZEMA COMMON NAMES : mourning dove turtle dove wild dove Carolina dove TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for the mourning dove is Zenaida macroura (Linnaeus) [5,6,7,22,25]. Two subspecies breed in the United States. Zenaida macroura ssp. carolinensis (Linnaeus) occurs east of the Mississippi River,, and Z. macroura ssp. marginella (Woodhouse) occurs in the western two-thirds of the United States [20,22,24]. The western race is slightly smaller and paler than its eastern counterpart [5]. A zone of overlap from Michigan through eastern Texas contains an intermediate form of the two subspecies [20]. ORDER : Columbiformes CLASS : Bird FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The mourning dove breeds in all of the lower 48 states.  Its range extends north into Canada and Alaska and south into Mexico [6,7,12,18]. Most mourning doves migrate and spend the winter in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, or the West Indies [6]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak-pine FRES15 Oak-hickory FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood FRES18 Maple-beech-birch FRES19 Aspen-birch FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES :


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K009  Pine - cypress forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub forest    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K022  Great Basin pine forest    K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland    K024  Juniper steppe woodland    K025  Alder - ash forest    K026  Oregon oakwoods    K027  Mesquite bosque    K028  Mosaic of K002 and K026    K029  California mixed evergreen forest    K030  California oakwoods    K031  Oak - juniper woodlands    K032  Transition between K031 and K037    K033  Chaparral    K034  Montane chaparral    K035  Coastal sagebrush    K036  Mosaic of K030 and K035    K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K039  Blackbrush    K040  Saltbush - greasewood    K041  Creosotebush    K042  Creosotebush - bursage    K043  Paloverde - cactus shrub    K044  Creosotebush - tarbush    K045  Ceniza shrub    K046  Desert: vegetation largely lacking    K047  Fescue - oatgrass    K048  California steppe    K049  Tule marshes    K050  Fescue - wheatgrass    K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass    K053  Grama - galleta steppe    K054  Grama - tobosa prairie    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe    K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe    K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna    K060  Mesquite savanna    K061  Mesquite - acacia savanna    K062  Mesquite - live oak savanna    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K065  Grama - buffalograss    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass    K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss    K069  Bluestem - grama prairie    K070  Sandsage - bluestem prairie    K071  Shinnery    K072  Sea oats prairie    K073  Northern cordgrass prairie    K074  Bluestem prairie    K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie    K076  Blackland prairie    K077  Bluestem - sacahuista prairie    K078  Southern cordgrass prairie    K079  Palmetto prairie    K081  Oak savanna    K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100    K083  Cedar glades    K084  Cross Timbers    K085  Mesquite - buffalograss    K086  Juniper - oak savanna    K087  Mesquite - oak savanna    K088  Fayette prairie    K089  Black Belt    K090  Live oak - sea oats    K091  Cypress savanna    K092  Everglades    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K099  Maple - basswood forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K101  Elm - ash forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest    K109  Transition between K104 and K106    K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest    K112  Southern mixed forest    K113  Southern floodplain forest    K114  Pocosin    K115  Sand pine scrub    K116  Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     14  Northern pin oak     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     17  Pin cherry     18  Paper birch     19  Gray birch - red maple     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine - hemlock     23  Eastern hemlock     24  Hemlock - yellow birch     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     26  Sugar maple - basswood     27  Sugar maple     28  Black cherry - maple     30  Red spruce - yellow birch     31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     34  Red spruce - Fraser fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white-cedar     38  Tamarack     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     40  Post oak - blackjack oak     42  Bur oak     43  Bear oak     44  Chestnut oak     45  Pitch pine     50  Black locust     51  White pine - chestnut oak     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     57  Yellow-poplar     58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock     59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak     60  Beech - sugar maple     61  River birch - sycamore     62  Silver maple - American elm     63  Cottonwood     64  Sassafras - persimmon     65  Pin oak - sweetgum     67  Mohrs ("shin") oak     68  Mesquite     69  Sand pine     70  Longleaf pine     71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak     72  Southern scrub oak     73  Southern redcedar     75  Shortleaf pine     76  Shortleaf pine - oak     78  Virginia pine - oak     79  Virginia pine     80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine     81  Loblolly pine     83  Longleaf pine - slash pine     84  Slash pine     85  Slash pine - hardwood     88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak     89  Live oak     91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak     92  Sweetgum - willow oak     93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash     94  Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm     95  Black willow     96  Overcup oak - water hickory     98  Pond pine    107  White spruce    108  Red maple    109  Hawthorn    110  Black oak    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    203  Balsam poplar    209  Bristlecone pine    210  Interior Douglas-fir    217  Aspen    220  Rocky Mountain juniper    221  Red alder    222  Black cottonwood - willow    SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY PLANT COMMUNITIES : The mourning dove occupies a broad range of plant communities including desert areas, open mixed woodlands and wood edges, farm and ranchlands, shelterbelts, and grasslands [6,7,18].  They are often attracted to disturbed areas supporting annual weedy plant species [16].  In California, mourning doves breed from the blue oak (Quercus douglasii) to the Jeffery pine (Pinus jeffreyi) zone [22].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Nesting - Mourning doves generally nest between mid-March and mid-September [12,22]. Clutch size, incubation and fledging - Mourning doves almost always lay two eggs, though one to three have been reported [5,22].  They raise multiple broods within a year.  In Arizona, up to seven nests per pair have been recorded in a single nesting season.  Incubation takes 14 to 15 days and is shared by both parents.  Growth and development is rapid and squabs fledge 12 to 14 days after hatching [5]. Migration - A southward migration of mourning doves occurs annually beginning in late August.  In general most doves in the northern half of the breeding range, and many in the southern part, winter in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, or the West Indies [20].  Mourning doves from the central and western United States generally arrive in Arizona and California by mid-September.  The peak period for fall arrival in Mexico is October 11 to 20.  Spring departure from Mexico begins in late March, and migration is in full progress by mid-April [12].  Some populations of mourning doves that breed in the wintering range appear to be nonmigratory [20]. PREFERRED HABITAT : The mourning dove primarily inhabits woodland-grassland edge, prairies, and open forests but avoids densely forested regions [22,23]. Agricultural areas are often heavily used by these doves during feeding [5].  They are also common in suburbs and cities [6,7]. Mourning doves generally nest on horizontal branches of shrubs and trees, especially conifers 10 to 25 feet (3-8 m) above the ground [5,7]. They exhibit a strong preference for stands with low canopy cover [22]. Although tree nests are most common, mourning doves will readily nest on the ground in the absence of trees or shrubs [6,7]. In Arizona, mourning doves that inhabit riverbottoms show a preference for mesquite trees (Prosopis spp.) over saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) as nest trees [5]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Most ground-nesting mourning doves prefer open cover with large amounts of bare soil and little litter, with vertical cover at least on one side of the nest.  Trees with forks and large branches provide security cover for nests.  Mourning doves prefer to collect nest material from areas with sparse cover [18]. FOOD HABITS : Mourning doves are ground foragers.  They feed almost entirely on seeds of grasses, weeds, and cultivated grains.  Mourning doves also eat insects, fruits, nuts, acorns, and pine seeds [4,7,8,21].  Snails are important in their diet in the spring before and during egg laying [22]. One study in a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) community found that mourning doves heavily consumed longleaf pine seeds [17].  In Arizona, favorite cereal grains of mourning doves include barley, wheat, and corn.  In the higher elevations, pine seed (Pinus spp.), turkeymullein (Eremocarpus setigerus), and wild sunflower (Helianthus spp.) are the most common food items [5]. PREDATORS : Mourning dove predators include humans, hawks (Accipitridae), owls (Stringidae and Tytonidae), cats (Felidae), dogs (Canidae), blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), and squirrels [19]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : The mourning dove is one of the most abundant birds in the United States.  Fall populations have ranged from 350 to 600 million doves. Dove hunting is a popular recreation for about two million people [12]. The mourning dove has been able to adapt to human activities more than most other native bird species.  Clearing large areas of deciduous forests in the East and planting trees on prairies have enhanced the dove population.  The conversion of large tracts of treeless prairie to domestic grainfields and farmsteads has created an excellent combination of food (waste grains) and nesting cover for mourning doves. Additionally, intensive grazing on many rangelands has encouraged exotic plant species that often produce more seeds than native grasses [6]. Mourning doves may play a role in the dispersal of weeds such as leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) in areas where they nest on the ground [3]. Mourning doves are susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases including mites, intestinal roundworms, bird malaria, fowlpox, and trichomoniasis. Occasionally the improper use of pesticides has been a significant cause of dove mortality.  This species is susceptible to aldrein, dieldrin, and other chlorinated hydrocarbons [5].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Literature addressing the direct effects of fire on mourning doves is lacking; however, fire can destroy mourning dove nests.  Adult mourning doves are probably able to escape fire. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Fires may affect mourning dove nesting habitat by destroying nest trees and therefore increasing the occurrence of ground nesting.  In Texas, a 2-year study of mourning dove nesting on a grassland infested with woody vegetation showed that a low-severity fire had little effect on either mesquite trees or their use as nesting sites by mourning doves. However, on a similar area earlier treated with herbicides and burned in late March, the loss of the larger mesquite trees as nest sites was followed by the occurrence of more ground nesting [18]. Soutiere and Bolen [18] found that current year burns provided better ground-nesting habitat than did older burns except under drought conditions.  The highest densities of ground nesting pairs were found in the current year's burn and decreased each successive year thereafter. The degree of ground cover became less attractive to ground-nesting doves as the proportion of cover approached the unburned condition. Also, burning reduced the amount of available litter but added to the suitability of the area by increasing the amount of open space where doves might collect nest materials. The effects of fire in a drought year could be disastrous to mourning dove nesting.  Spring fires in a drought year may delay the development of suitable ground-nesting habitat [18]. FIRE USE : Mourning doves generally will not scratch in litter for seeds and will avoid areas with dense vegetation when feeding [15].  For these reasons mourning doves commonly forage on newly burned areas.  Mason [16] found that mourning doves often foraged in 2-year-old burns on a (Pinus monophylla-Juniperus osteosperma) woodland site burned in winter or fall.  The burns provided weedy areas for foraging, snags for perching, and open areas for loafing. An extensive body of research has been published on fire effects on animals in semidesert grassland, oak savanna, and Madrean oak woodlands of southeastern Arizona, including the response of mourning dove to fire. See the Research Project Summary of this work for more information on mourning dove and more than 100 additional species of birds, small mammals, grasshoppers, and herbaceous and woody plant species.


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
REFERENCES : 1.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals,        reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's        associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p.        [434] 2.  Biswell, H. H.; Taber, R. D.; Hedrick, D. W.; Schultz, A. M. 1952.        Management of chamise brushlands for game in the north coast region of        California. California Fish and Game. 38(4): 453-484.  [13673] 3.  Blockstein, David E.; Maxwell, Bruce D.; Fay, Peter K. 1987. Dispersal        of leafy spurge seeds (Euhorbia esula) by mourning doves (Zenaida        macroura). Weed Science. 35: 160-162; 1987.  [475] 4.  Borell, A. E. 1971. Russian-olive for wildlife and other conservation        uses. Leaflet 292. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 8 p.        [6997] 5.  Brown, David E. 1989. Arizona game birds. Tucson, AZ: The University of        Arizona Press. 307 p.  [19900] 6.  Cooperrider, Allen Y.; Boyd, Raymond J.; Stuart, Hanson R., eds. 1986.        Inventory and monitoring of wildlife habitat. Denver, CO: U.S.        Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Service Center.        858 p.  [3441] 7.  DeGraaf, Richard M.; Scott, Virgil E.; Hamre, R. H.; [and others]. 1991.        Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and        habitat use. Agric. Handb. 688. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 625 p.  [15856] 8.  Eastman, William R., Jr. 1960. Eating of tree seeds by birds in central        Oregon. Res. Note 42. Corvallis, OR: Oregon Forest Research Center,        Forest Lands Research. 24 p.  [8284] 9.  Euler, David L.; Thompson, Daniel Q. 1978. Ruffed grouse and songbird        foraging response on small spring burns. New York Fish and Game Journal.        25(2): 156-164.  [8077] 10.  Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and        Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p.  [905] 11.  Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others].        1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range        ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p.  [998] 12.  Geissler, Paul H.; Dolton, David D.; Field, Rebecca; [and others]. 1987.        Mourning dove nesting: seasonal patterns and effects of September        hunting. Resourc. Publ. 168. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the        Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 33 p.  [19899] 13.  Kruse, Arnold D.; Higgins, Kenneth F. 1990. Effects of prescribed fire        upon wildlife habitat in northern mixed-grass prairie. In: Alexander, M.        E.; Bisgrove, G. F., technical coordinators. The art and science of fire        management: Proceedings, 1st Interior West Fire Council annual meeting        and workshop; 1988 October 24-27; Kananaskis Village, AB. Inf. Rep.        NOR-X-309. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern        Forestry Centre: 182-193.  [14146] 14.  Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation        of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York:        American Geographical Society. 77 p.  [1384] 15.  Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in        southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene,        eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings;        [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen.        Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27.  [11562] 16.  Mason, Robert B. 1981. Response of birds and rodents to controlled        burning in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 55        p. Thesis.  [1545] 17.  Smith, Clarence F.; Aldous, Shaler E. 1947. The influence of mammals and        birds in retarding artificial and natural reseeding of coniferous        forests in the United States. Journal of Forestry. 45: 361-369.  [19308] 18.  Soutiere, Edward C.; Bolen, Eric G. 1973. Role of fire in mourning dove        nesting ecology. In: Komarek, Edwin V., Sr., technical coordinator.        Proceedings Annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1972 June 8-9;        Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station:        277-288.  [8471] 19.  Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 1957. Mourning        dove investigations: 1948-1956. Columbia, SC. 166 p.  [19911] 20.  Tomlinson, Roy E.; Dolton, David D.; Reeves, Henry M.; [and others].        1988. Migration, harvest, and population characteristics of mourning        doves banded in the Western Management Unit, 1964-1977. Fish and        Wildlife Technical Report 13. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the        Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 101 p.  [19898] 21.  Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals.        Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428.  [11983] 22.  Verner, Jared; Boss, Allan S., tech. coords. 1980. California wildlife        and their habitats: western Sierra Nevada. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-37.        Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 439 p.  [10237] 23.  Wells, Reginald; Kraft, Virginia M. 1955. Upland game birds. Sports        Illustrated. Oct: 22-34.  [17365] 24.  American Ornithologists' Union. 1957. Checklist of North American birds.        5th ed. Baltimore, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press, Inc. 691 p.  [21235] 25.  Donohoe, Robert W. 1974. American hornbeam  Carpinus caroliniana Walt.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., eds. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 86-88.  [13714]

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