Scientific name: Zenaida macroura

Characteristics: A small-headed ,midsized dove that averages 12 inches in length. It’s grayish-tan overall with a pinkish wash on the neck and upper breast. The short, pointed wings and upper parts bear blackish spots. The tail is long and pointed and has whitish spots along the edges, and the legs are pinkish red.

Breeding: Builds a flimsy nest platform of loose twigs in a tree or on the ground or atop nests of another species. An average of two eggs are laid and incubated by both adults for about two weeks. Young doves fledge at around 15 days old. Adults are known to mate for life.

Range: Throughout Central Oregon and widespread across the U.S. and into northern Mexico.

Habitat: Likes open woodlands, urban parks, residential and agricultural areas.

Food: Eats mostly seeds and waste grain, some insects and berries. Feeds nestlings a milklike product made in the crop, a part of the digestive tract.

Comments: The mournful “cooing” sounds of this dove give rise to its common name. Direct fliers, mourning doves make a whistling-type sound with their wings as they fly. Mourning doves may lay two or more clutches of eggs each breeding season and have been found to nest every month of the year in some states. Genus name is for Princess Zénaide Charlotte Julie Bonaparte, wife of the French zoologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte.

Current viewing: Throughout Central Oregon.

— Damian Fagan is an East Cascades Audubon Society volunteer and COCC Community Learning instructor. He can be reached at

Sources: Oregon Department of Wildlife Resources and “The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds” by John Terres