You Won’t Believe How Fast Mourning Doves Build Nests

Updated: Jan. 10, 2024

You'll be amazed at how fast a pair of mourning doves builds a nest! Learn when (and where) 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. 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?

Mourning dove with young in nestCourtesy Vita Adams
Mourning dove with young in nest

“I feed doves, finches and sparrows. How do I get these birds to nest in my yard?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Peggy Shreve of Oceanside, California.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “The only way to attract nesting birds is to provide the right nest sites, as different birds choose different situations for placing their nests. Doves often build on top of a horizontal fork in a tree.”

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

Find out if mourning dove sightings have meaning.

How Long Until Mourning Dove Eggs Hatch?

“A mourning dove built a nest near my front door. How long until the eggs hatch?” asks reader Aspasia Simeone of Long Beach, New York.

Kenn and Kimberly say, “After the pair finishes building the nest—which takes two to four days—the female usually lays the first egg within a couple of days, and a second egg a day or two later. Both parents will take turns incubating the two eggs. The eggs hatch after 14 days. Both parents feed the youngsters, and they will be ready to fly in about two weeks.”

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.

Kenn and Kimberly 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? Kenn and Kimberly 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.

Learn what a mourning dove call sounds like.

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