Mourning Dove Nests: The Fastest Nest Builders

You'll be amazed at how fast a pair of mourning doves builds a nest. Learn about the nesting habits of mourning doves.

mourning dove nestCourtesy Polly Gallina
Mourning dove nest with hatchlings

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. Their flimsy nests are made of pine needles, twigs and grass.

Why the hurry? Mourning doves may raise as many as six broods in a single year, each one in a new nest. They start building nests very early in the spring season and continue as late as October. Even in the far north, they may start their first nest as early as March. In southern states, doves may begin nesting in February or even January.

Psst—don’t miss these breathtaking photos of mourning doves.

Normally female mourning doves lay two eggs per brood. Since the nests are so flimsy, the eggs or young sometimes fall out. So doves may have an instinct to try over and over to make sure they raise enough young to keep the species going.

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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.