Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to Your Feeder

Mourning Doves are beautiful and common birds coast-to-coast across the United States. They are named for their mournful but soothing calls. Thus, they are a favorite feeder bird of many.

Do you want to attract Mourning Doves to your feeder? Follow the suggestions below.

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

Why attract Mourning Doves to your bird feeder?

Mourning Doves get along well with other birds at the feeder. Though they are large, they are not aggressive. They feed peaceably with other smaller birds. So, they are a joy to have at your feeder.

Mourning Doves are easy to attract. They eat a wide variety of seeds and are not picky. They may be some of the first birds to visit your feeder.

They eat weed seeds, so can benefit your yard and garden. They can actually help control yard weeds.

They often eat on the ground, cleaning up under the feeder. They help keep rodents away from feeder by eating the spilled bird seed.

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

What foods will attract Mourning Doves to your feeder?

Mourning Doves eat a wide variety of grains and seeds. 

Attract them to your feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn. 

This combination of seeds is found in most generic mixed bird seed. The bird seed that Mourning Doves eat is inexpensive compared to specialty bird foods.

My favorite mixed bird seed is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It doesn't have any cheap filler seeds that many native birds won't eat. Birds love it all! And Mourning Doves are no exception.

I also recommend what's called a quail seed block (Amazon link). It is a block of bird seed held together with gelatin or molasses. It lasts much longer than loose seed. That's a good thing.

It has seeds that are especially attractive to doves, quail, and house sparrows. As such, it helps keep these larger or more numerous (and hungry) birds away from your other feeders that are filled with specialty or gourmet bird foods.

Seed blocks and black oil sunflower seed are often less expensive at a farm store near you.

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

What kind of feeders do Mourning Doves like?

Mourning Doves prefer to eat on the ground. For instance, they love the seed blocks mentioned above right on the ground.

Otherwise, a large platform feeder is perfect for them. 

Here is an affiliate link to an Amazon page of ground platform bird feeders.

Despite their larger size, Mourning Doves sometimes squeeze onto the trays of small hopper bird feeders. They then keep the other smaller birds from feeding. Or they tip the feeders over or knock them to the ground.

This video is from my Youtube Channel!

Where to place your bird feeder for Mourning Doves

You can scatter bird seed for Mourning Doves on the bare ground, gravel, or cement patio.

You can place a seed block on the ground or a raised platform.

Platform feeders can be low, or perhaps need to be raised to keep out of reach of deer or (in my yard) javelinas.

As doves are heavy, a hanging platform might not work as well, unless you can keep it from spinning and swaying in the wind. Such feeders may tip over or bend a shepherds hook bird feeder pole. A ground platform feeder is better for doves.

The general rule for bird feeders is to place them within 8 feet of your windows or over 30 feet away. The reason is that close to the house the birds are not going very fast when they are startled. They see their reflection in the window and can veer off in time. If you have many bird window strikes you may need to experiment with your feeder placement.

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

How else can you attract Mourning Doves to your yard?

After eating, Mourning Doves want a big drink. They need water. Mourning Doves take frequent baths, too. Whether you purchase a decorative bird bath, or use a flowerpot saucer on the ground, the doves will appreciate it!

Mourning Doves eat grit to aid in digesting their food. So you may see them on road edges or gravel driveway eating small bits of stone.

Mourning Doves will nest on special shelves or nesting cones. Here is one on Amazon to see what they look like (affiliate link). These birds will nest under your eves or in a carport.

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Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

Problems with feeding Mourning Doves: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

There are many reasons why you might not want to attract Mourning Doves to your yard.

Some people just don't like doves and pigeons.

Mourning Doves eat quickly and eat quite a lot. They swallow the seeds whole and store them in an organ called a crop. Then they digest them later.

As a result, too many Mourning Doves can empty your bird feeders quickly.

Even though they aren't aggressive, they can hog a feeder and keep smaller birds from fitting in.

Plus, too many doves will make an excrement mess. Those bird droppings can splatter your yard furniture and cars.

Mourning Doves do not like peanuts in the shell and large nuts. They aren't supposed to like the harder striped sunflower seeds, either. They won't eat suet.

Mourning Doves will have a hard time eating from a tube feeder. They are too wide to fit on the perch. 

Mourning Dove FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding Mourning Doves and I'll add the answer here!

Related articles:

Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

This is the first article in a series!

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract Black-capped Chickadees to your feeder

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January 2023: Thank you so much for visiting! I am working on a YouTube channel on birds and bird watching. Check it out here:



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