Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove


The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family, Columbidae. The bird is also known as the American mourning dove, the rain dove, and colloquially as the turtle dove, and was once known as the Carolina pigeon and Carolina turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also a leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure is due to its prolific breeding; in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods of two young each in a single year. The wings make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing, a form of sonation. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph). It is the national bird of the British Virgin Islands.

Distribution And Habitat

The Mourning Dove occurs through North and Central America including the Caribbean (Raffaele and others 1998). This species was first reported in Puerto Rico in 1935 (Bond 1987) and in Vieques in 1967 (Bond 1967). In Puerto Rico, it occurs primarily in the southwestern region (Biaggi 1997) but also in the northern coastal plains, and it is known to inhabit satellite islands such as Mona (Gordon and others 1961) and Vieques. It is a rare resident throughout the year in Vieques (Gemmill 2015) and a rare visitor to Mona. This species is associated mostly with subtropical dry and moist forest life zones, plantations (Rivera-Milán 1992), grassy fields (Saliva 1994), and open country of the lowlands (Raffaele and others 1998). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 129 records within 77 hexagons or 16 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 77 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 10 percent (8) of the hexagons, probable in 31 percent (24), and possible in 58 percent (45) (see map). Mourning Dove distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 65Mourning Dove/Tórtola Rabilarga

Mourning Dove Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Mourning Dove builds a nest made of twigs and grasses, which is usually placed in a bush or tree at a low to medium height (Raffaele and others 1998). Previously published reports indicate that it breeds from March to August (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results suggest that this species breeding season extends throughout the year, with the most breeding activity from March to June (see chart). Overall, the breeding activity peaks in April. Results show that this species breeds mostly on the southern coast of the island within the subtropical dry forest life zone (64 percent of the hexagons) (see table). However, results indicate that it also breeds in the lowlands within subtropical moist forest life zone (32 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the Mourning Dove is described as increasing in North America (Butcher and Niven 2007). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Mourning Dove has a protected habitat in land of 13 percent or 236 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found this species (1842 km2).