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: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ .
COMMON NAMES :
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
. A zone of overlap from Michigan through eastern Texas contains an
intermediate form of the two subspecies .
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
WILDLIFE DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
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 .
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands
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
K034 Montane chaparral
K035 Coastal sagebrush
K036 Mosaic of K030 and K035
K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K040 Saltbush - greasewood
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
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
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
K115 Sand pine scrub
K116 Subtropical pine forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
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
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
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
64 Sassafras - persimmon
65 Pin oak - sweetgum
67 Mohrs ("shin") oak
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
110 Black oak
201 White spruce
202 White spruce - paper birch
203 Balsam poplar
209 Bristlecone pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
221 Red alder
222 Black cottonwood - willow
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
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 . In
California, mourning doves breed from the blue oak (Quercus douglasii)
to the Jeffery pine (Pinus jeffreyi) zone .
BIOLOGICAL DATA AND HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS :
Nesting - Mourning doves generally nest between mid-March and
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 .
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
. 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 . Some populations of mourning doves that breed in the
wintering range appear to be nonmigratory .
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
. 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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
One study in a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) community found that
mourning doves heavily consumed longleaf pine seeds . 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 .
Mourning dove predators include humans, hawks (Accipitridae), owls
(Stringidae and Tytonidae), cats (Felidae), dogs (Canidae), blue jays
(Cyanocitta cristata), and squirrels .
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
FIRE EFFECTS AND USE
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 .
Soutiere and Bolen  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 .
FIRE USE :
Mourning doves generally will not scratch in litter for seeds and will
avoid areas with dense vegetation when feeding . For these reasons
mourning doves commonly forage on newly burned areas. Mason  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.
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Zenaida macroura
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.
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. 
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. 
4. Borell, A. E. 1971. Russian-olive for wildlife and other conservation
uses. Leaflet 292. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 8 p.
5. Brown, David E. 1989. Arizona game birds. Tucson, AZ: The University of
Arizona Press. 307 p. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and
Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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:
19. Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 1957. Mourning
dove investigations: 1948-1956. Columbia, SC. 166 p. 
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. 
21. Van Dersal, William R. 1940. Utilization of oaks by birds and mammals.
Journal of Wildlife Management. 4(4): 404-428. 
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. 
23. Wells, Reginald; Kraft, Virginia M. 1955. Upland game birds. Sports
Illustrated. Oct: 22-34. 
24. American Ornithologists' Union. 1957. Checklist of North American birds.
5th ed. Baltimore, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press, Inc. 691 p. 
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.
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