Mourning doves are one of Wisconsin’s most abundant and widespread bird species, with the continental population estimated to be over 400 million. As Goose Pond Sanctuary’s most numerous winter bird species, mourning doves were well-represented on the Great Backyard Bird Count, with a high of 117. Numbers were even greater at the end of February, with about 180 being counted. One of Goose Pond's nearby neighbors has been feeding shelled corn to over 100 mourning doves!
Most mourning doves at Goose Pond are likely permanent residents, but one dove banded at Goose Pond was later found in Louisiana. Goose Pond Sanctuary provides ideal habitat for mourning doves, where they nest in prairie restorations on the ground in addition to nesting in shrubs and the winter cover unit. In fall, the sunflower food plot attracts hundreds of migrating and resident doves. In winter, doves roost in the sanctuary's spruce and cedar winter cover unit and devour black oil sunflowers at the feeders.
These birds are a major prey item for hawks. This winter, at least five doves have been killed at the resident sanctuary manager's house by Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks. Plan a trip to see these elegant, graceful birds and more at our Goose Pond Sanctuary.
Photo by S. Wong, Flickr Creative Commons