Everything You Need to Know About Baby Mourning Doves

We share the answers to the most common questions about baby mourning doves, including what mourning dove eggs look like and when they leave the nest.

What Does a Mourning Dove Egg Look Like?

A female adult mourning dove lays two plain, white, nondescript eggs per clutch. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 14 days. The parents may go on to have up to five or six broods of baby mourning doves in one season.

Young mourning dove and a white nondescript egg.

What Does a Baby Mourning Dove Look Like?

After hatching, a baby mourning dove’s eyes are closed and it is helpless, relying on its parents for warmth. The hatchling dove is covered in an ivory-colored down material. By two weeks old, the young have grown significantly and are sporting fluffy feathers.

See more beautiful photos of mourning doves.

baby mourning dove in nestCourtesy Bethany Terry

What Does a Baby Mourning Dove Eat?

Male and female adults produce “crop milk,” an antioxidant-rich liquid secreted in their throats. The milk is also high in fat and protein. Both parents feed this milky substance to the young while they are still in the nest. Eventually, their diet transitions to seeds, an adult mourning dove’s main source of food.

Psst—this is what a mourning dove nest looks like.

When Do Baby Mourning Doves Leave the Nest?

They leave the nest when they are about two weeks old, but they stay close to their parents and continue to be fed by them for another week or two.

Learn about late nesting birds: When do birds lay eggs?

Baby mourning dovesCOURTESY DIANA CLINE

What Does a Fledgling Mourning Dove Look Like?

A juvenile mourning dove has white markings on its face. It looks very similar to adults in the body but has white spots at the tips of the feathers.

Check out more pictures of super cute baby birds.

What Should I Do if I Find a Young Dove on the Ground?

When you find a baby mourning dove, or any abandoned bird, on the ground, it’s important to first determine what stage its in. If it’s a nestling and its nest is nearby, simply place the bird back in the nest. If the bird is older, in fledgling stage, it’s likely not abandoned—one or both parents are probably nearby—and it’s best to leave the bird where it is. Learn how to tell the difference between a nestling and fledgling.

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Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten is the content director of Birds & Blooms. She's been with the brand in various roles since 2007. She has many favorite birds (it changes with the seasons), but top picks include the red-headed woodpecker, Baltimore oriole and rose-breasted grosbeak. Her bucket list bird is the painted bunting.