Mourning Doves: A Musical Treat in Your Backyard

Mourning Doves: A Musical Treat in Your Backyard

As I sit here this morning, typing, I'm greeted with the soothing sounds of a mourning dove outside my window. Its soft, melodical coo takes me back to my childhood when I spent time at my grandfather's house. His property was surrounded by these peaceful creatures. I think the sound is soothing and enjoyable -- not nerve-racking or annoying like the fast-paced calls of the mockingbird or the screeches of the grackle. 

In fact, everything about the mourning dove is low-key. If you watch them feed on the ground, they do so with grace. Stepping carefully and pecking the ground to find tidbits of nutrition. Their love life is even low-key. They mate with a partner for life -- about seven to 10 years, according to information on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. The only time a mourning dove will seek out another partner is if their chosen partner happens to perish.  Yes, they are monogamous. 

However, the coolest thing about this bird is that it actually makes a milk-like substance to feed its young. Yes, a bird that feeds its young milk! The dove makes the milk in its crop -- a structure in its throat -- to feed its babies for a few days after they hatch. Its actually more of a cheese-like substance than liquid, and it contains similar nutrients to those in cow's milk. 

So, the next time you hear the melodic coo of a mourning dove, enjoy it. It's a bird of peace.