Mourning doves are one of the most common and widespread birds in North America. They get their name from the distinctive (and incessant) cooing sound they make. Male mourning doves are also devoted and protective fathers. In honor of Father’s Day, here are some photos of both parents caring for a fledgling.
Once a pair of mourning doves mates, they usually stay together for life. They work together to build a nest, usually on a tree branch or a ledge. The nest is made of twigs, grasses, and leaves, and is often flimsy and loosely constructed. The female lays two eggs at a time, which are incubated by both parents for about two weeks. The father usually takes the day shift sitting on the eggs.
After the eggs hatch, both parents feed the chicks “crop milk,” which is a thick mix of protein and fat they secrete in their crops (a part of the esophagus where they store seeds) and regurgitate for their chicks to eat out of their mouth.
The chicks grow to near full size and fledge in just two weeks! In these photos the fledglings are almost as big as their parents and will leave the nest in a few days.