Bird Watcher's General Store

Do Doves Mate for Life - 03/01/02


Dear Bird Folks,

I have heard that Mourning Doves mate for life. Is that true? If it is true, what will happen to the mate of the dove that a hawk caught in my yard last weekend?

Sharyl W.

Yeah sure, Sharyl

Mourning Doves mate for life, but that is no big brag for a species that has a life expectancy of about two weeks. Well, maybe they live more than two weeks, but not much more...just ask that dove that the hawk snagged.

Nearly 80 percent of all new doves don't make it to their first birthday. And half of those few that make, it never see year two. So if you do the math, for every 100 doves only 10 will be around to mate twice. Besides having a huge number of natural predators, doves are the most hunted creature in the country. Each year close to 42 million doves are killed by hunters, mostly in Texas. In Massachusetts, Mourning Doves are protected songbirds, but in Texas they are considered game birds and are shot at, along with other cute creatures like prairie dogs and Democrats.

For this reason, doves spend little time weeping over a lost mate. There is a brief service and then it's business as usual. If a dove is lucky enough to live a long time, it could end up having quite a few mates. Maybe not as many as Lis Taylor, but still it would have a lot.



Artwork by Catherine Clark


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