Mourning doves are found in large numbers in the US. These birds are mostly hunted for sport.
Mourning doves largely feed on seeds. In fact, 99% of the dove diet consists only of seeds. Snails and insects are consumed quite rarely by these birds.
These doves have enlargement in their esophagus called crops. When the birds gobble the seeds as they see them on the ground, these seeds get stored as a whole in their crop. They do not dig up or scratch the ground in search of seeds. They also consume fine sand, grit and gravel in order to help in the digestion process.
One may be surprised to note that these birds can fill their crop with as much as 17,200 seeds of the bluegrass variety at a time before they fly to their perch to digest. They consume a whopping 71 calories on an average in a day consuming food of about 12 – 20% of their body weight to give them the required energy. These birds sometimes perch on certain plants while eating.
The most preferred seed varieties include sunflower, millet, sweetgum, pine nuts, corn, wheat, sesame, canary grass, pokeberry, amarnath as well as safflower. The less preferred varieties are the rye, smartweed, goosegrass and buckwheat seeds. They eat the latter when the other seed varieties are not available.
These birds construct nests on evergreen trees and lay about two eggs. They may choose other convenient places to lay their nests too. In some places, these birds can produce as much as 6 broods annually.
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