You Won’t Believe How Fast Mourning Doves Build Nests

You'll be amazed at how fast a pair of mourning doves builds a nest! Learn when you might spot a mourning dove nest in your yard.

Mourning Dove Nesting Habits

mourning dove nestCourtesy Sherry Cole
Mourning dove pairs build nests quickly.

Most birds spend several days, to as long as two weeks getting their home just right. But a pair of mourning doves can quickly throw together a loose platform of sticks in just a few hours. The construction may be finished in a single morning or spread over a couple of days. The male is prone to interrupting the work to pursue the female. (Find out what types of birds mate for life). A flimsy nest mourning dove nest is made of pine needles, twigs and grass.

Check out more fascinating facts about mourning doves.

Where Do Mourning Doves Nest?

These birds do not use nest boxes. Mourning doves often choose protected spots on the ledges of houses for their twiggy nests.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

Why Do Mourning Doves Build Nests so Early in Spring?

mourning dove nestCourtesy Polly Gallina
Mourning doves begin nesting early in spring, continuing through fall.

A Birds & Blooms reader from Manahawkin, New Jersey, wrote in to ask why these birds get such an early start on nest building. Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “That’s a good observation—they do start nesting early in the season. Even in the north they may start their first nest as early as March. In southern states, doves may begin in February or even January. And a pair of mourning doves makes repeated nesting attempts during the year, sometimes raising as many as five broods between March and October. Normally they just lay two eggs per brood.” Psst—don’t miss these breathtaking photos of mourning doves.

Why the hurry? The Kaufmans explain, “Mourning dove nest construction is so flimsy that the eggs or baby birds sometimes fall out. So the mourning doves may have an instinct to try over and over to make sure they raise enough young to keep the species going.”

Did you know: Mourning doves and other birds that nest in the open usually (but not always!) build a new nest for each brood.

Next learn what a mourning dove call sounds like.

Sally Roth
Sally Roth is an award-winning author of more than 20 popular books about gardening, nature, and birds, including the best-selling Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible. Roth is also a contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. She and her husband share their home in the high Rockies with a variety of animals.