What Does a Mourning Dove Call Sound Like?

Updated: Nov. 01, 2022

Listen to the soothing sound of a mourning dove call. The song is described by some as peaceful or mournful. Find out why doves coo.

Birders Love Hearing the Sound of a Mourning Dove Call

mourning dove closeupCourtesy Liana Jones
Mourning dove

When you hear a soothing, “coo, coo, coo,” sound in your backyard during the day, you might think it’s an owl. But most likely, you’re hearing a mourning dove call, not a hooting owl.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Many passionate backyard birders find the soft, distinctive cooing of this dove to be calming and utterly peaceful. “The birds vocalize quite a lot and that’s where they get their name, because of their mournful call,” says John Rowden, who is the senior director of bird-friendly communities at the National Audubon Society.

Mourning doves are a beloved common backyard bird, and their recognizable call definitely contributes to their popularity. Don’t miss 25 breathtaking mourning dove pictures.

mourning dove call soundCourtesy Tim Deitz

“A mourning dove (above) posed in our pink dogwood tree one evening. It’s a common bird with a very distinct call. Even though the low, sorrowful sound may seem melancholy, the mourning dove is considered to be a messenger of peace, faith and love,” says Birds & Blooms reader Tim Deitz of Lancaster, Ohio.

Sheila Beitler of South Bend, Indiana, says her favorite birdsong comes from the mourning dove. “It may seem an odd choice, but the mourning dove’s sad song gives me comfort,” says Sheila Beitler, South Bend, Indiana.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

Why Do Doves Coo?

mourning dove callCourtesy Beth Huizenga
A male mourning dove calls to attract a mate.

The cooooOOOOO-woo-woo-woo call is almost always uttered by the male mourning dove, not the female. These distinctive mourning dove sounds are—wait for it—a wooing call, an enticement to a mate or potential mate. The song must be effective, as these birds mate for life.

When I was growing up, my mother told me a cooing mourning dove call meant that rain was coming. While I still enjoy hearing these birds, I do not rely on them for my weather forecasts.

“I feed birds in my backyard all year long, and I am especially fond of the doves that coo as I’m enjoying my morning coffee on the patio,” says Helen Fojtik.

Next, learn everything you need to know about baby mourning doves and mourning dove nests.