THE MORNING DOVE: COOING SONGBIRD OF THE DESERT
The Morning Dove, commonly known as the Mourning Dove, is a prevalent bird species found in Bisbee, Arizona, particularly in the Mule Mountains region. Its scientific name is Zenaida macroura. This bird is well-adapted to the desert and mountainous landscapes found in this area, thriving in both rural and urban settings.
The Mourning Dove is characterized by its slender, streamlined body, which measures about 9 to 13 inches in length. It possesses a wingspan of approximately 17 to 18 inches. The bird's plumage is generally light gray and brown, with a distinctive rosy hue beneath the wings. It has a long, pointed tail with white edges, a feature quite prominent during flight. The bird's legs are short and reddish in color, and it has a small, black bill. The Mourning Dove's eyes are dark and round, giving it a soft, gentle appearance.
Habitat and Distribution
In Bisbee and the surrounding Mule Mountains, Mourning Doves are often found in a variety of habitats. These include open areas such as prairies and grasslands, along with agricultural fields and urban gardens. They have adapted remarkably well to human-modified environments, often seen perching on telephone wires and foraging for seeds on the ground in backyards.
Behavior and Diet
Mourning Doves are primarily seed-eaters, with a diet consisting almost entirely of a variety of seeds from grasses, grains, and occasionally from bird feeders. They are ground feeders and can often be seen walking gracefully on the ground, pecking for food. Their water requirements are minimal, often fulfilled by the morning dew and the occasional visit to small water bodies.
The bird is renowned for its gentle cooing sound, a soft, mournful call that gives it its name. This cooing is a form of communication, especially during the mating season.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Mourning Doves are monogamous birds, often forming strong pair bonds. The breeding season in the Mule Mountains typically begins in early spring and can continue into the summer. Nests are relatively simple structures made of twigs, located in trees, shrubs, or even on building ledges. Females typically lay two white eggs, and both parents share the responsibility of incubation and feeding the young.
The average lifespan of a Mourning Dove in the wild is about 1.5 years, although some individuals can live much longer, up to 5 years or more under favorable conditions.
Nationally, the Mourning Dove is not considered to be at risk, classified under the 'Least Concern' category by conservation authorities. They are abundant and widespread, with a stable population trend. In Arizona, including the Bisbee area, they are a common sight, with no immediate threats to their population. However, habitat conservation remains crucial for the long-term sustainability of this and other wildlife species in the region.