Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
For those passionate about birding and nature

 March 1st, 2016                                                                            Volume 03.16

Nature News
- Bird Of The Month -
Mourning Dove

BOM: Mourning Dove
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura 
How to identify: 
The wings of this dove are long and pointed, allowing it to efficiently maintain flight speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.  The wings make a whistling sound when the bird takes flight.  They have very strong legs and feet and can launch into flight rapidly.  The tail is long and tapered with white outer feathers contrasting to the dark inner feathers.  There is also black spotting on the wings.  Otherwise the coloring is muted light gray and brown above and pinkish below.  The males can be distinguished from females with a little practice-males have a bluish crown and nape and a rose wash to the throat and breast.
The Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant and widespread birds in North America.  Primarily a bird of open country, scattered trees, and woodland edges, but large numbers roost in woodlots during winter. Feeds on ground in grasslands, agricultural fields, backyards, and roadsides. It is considered a game bird in many states and more than 20 million individuals are shot each year.  Even so, the population of Mourning Dove in the U.S. is estimated at 350 million.
Where to find one:
Mourning Dove are monogamous and form strong pair bonds.  The female dove builds the nest, a messy, flimsy construction of twigs and grasses.  Besides trees, dove may choose shrubs, vines, various places on a building, hanging flower pots as nest-building sites.  The male will bring nesting materials and stands on top of the female when offering the materials to her.  The clutch almost always consists of two eggs, one laid in the evening and the other the next morning.  Both parents incubate the eggs; the male usually during the day and the female at night.  Incubation is about two weeks.  Even though dove are almost strictly seed eaters, the nestlings are fed crop milk by both parents for several days.  Seeds are gradually added to the nestlings' diet.  Fledging (leaving the nest) takes place at about 14 days old, but the parents continue to feed them for another two weeks or so.  Mourning Dove are prolific breeders and may raise up to six broods a season, if the weather is warm enough.  Although many dove fall victim to hunting and predation by raptors, they have a relatively long life span of up to ten years. The oldest known Mourning Dove was 31 years old.
How to attract one to your yard:  
Mourning Doves eat almost exclusively seeds.  You may observe them busily picking up seeds from the ground, which they store in their crop to be digested later.  They do not scratch or dig for seeds, but will only pick up what is readily visible. They often swallow fine gravel or sand to aid in digestion.  They eat roughly twenty percent of their body weight each day.  In your yard, feeding Moana Nursery's Dove & Quail Blend seed in a ground tray is the best way to attract these attractive, gentle birds.  They will also feed from elevated wooden or hopper feeders. 

Interesting fact:
Mourning Doves tend to feed busily on the ground, swallowing seeds and storing them in an enlargement of the esophagus called the crop. Once they've filled it (the record is 17,200 bluegrass seeds in a single crop!), they can fly to a safe perch to digest the meal.
For more information on Mourning Doves, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations:  1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks. 
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks

Go to the WBU site for more Bird of the Month newsletters & articles. 
STOCK UP ON SPRING SEED!  Birdfood Sale Small file 
Reg. $23.99/ea.
Sale $21.99/ea.
       Dove & Quail
Reg. $19.99/ea.
Sale $17.99/ea.
       No Mess DP
Reg. $39.99/ea.
Sale $36.99/ea.

Check out all current sales and promotions on the Moana Nursery website
Mourning Doves Courtship
Fun Facts About Doves

Like all birds, Mourning Doves are unable to sweat, so to stay cool during hot weather ... they pant just like a dog. Panting requires the doves to drink a great deal of water due the excessive loss of moisture to evaporation.

Doves are one of the few species of birds that drink by sucking up their water instead of taking a bill full of water and letting it trickle down their throat. It can suck up its total daily requirement in less than 20 seconds.

Mourning Doves produce a mournful cooing sound which is probably responsible for its memorable common name.

Mourning Doves' nests are woven together by the female with materials collected by the male. The male supervises the construction while standing on the back of the female as she works.

Mourning Doves may have up to six clutches per year with a typical clutch size of two eggs. This prolific number of nesting cycles is the largest of any North American bird.

Look for the female Mourning Dove incubating her eggs from late afternoon until midmorning, and then watch for the male to come and take his turn during the heat of the day.

Despite being one of the most widespread game birds in North America, with over 70 million shot annually, the Mourning Dove is still one of the 10 most abundant birds found in the United States with an estimated fall population of over 400 million birds.

Death from non-hunting related causes (weather, predators, disease, etc.) are believed to take four to five times the number of Mourning Doves each year than hunting does. It is estimated that between 50-65% of all Mourning Doves die annually.

The average life span for an adult Mourning Dove is 1 ½ years. The oldest known free-living bird, discovered through bird banding research, was over 31 years old. This is the record life span for a North American bird that lives on land.

Male and female Mourning Doves look very similar, but the male is slightly larger and has a more colorful bluish crown on its head and a pink colored chest.

Both Mourning Dove parents feed their young on "crop milk," a yogurt-like secretion produced by the walls of their crop. It takes both parents to provide enough food for the growing nestlings. If one parent is lost during the nestlings' first seven days, the young will not be able to survive on the food produced by the lone remaining adult.

Mourning Doves' have been clocked at flying speeds between 40-55 mph.

The Mourning Doves' diet is almost strictly seeds (99%) which they forage from the ground, preferring bare ground to areas of tall vegetation or thick cover.

The Mourning Dove's large crop enables it to feed on a large quantity of seeds in a short amount of time, thus limiting the amount of time it is vulnerable to predators.

The crop of one Mourning Dove was found to contain over 17,000 individual annual bluegrass seeds.

Mourning Doves are known to be monogamous for an entire breeding season, and there is some evidence that they may re-pair in succeeding breeding seasons.

The feathers of a Mourning Dove are loosely attached to their skin and serve as a means of escape by easily pulling free when grabbed by a predator.

For Wild Birds, Home is Where the Nest Is
During the spring, hundreds of wild bird species return from their tropical, wintering grounds to nest and raise their young. This massive migration brings the greatest opportunity of any season to attract birds by providing nesting materials and safely-located nesting boxes. With birds expending so much energy migrating, courting and looking for food, these helpful additions will make their lives a little easier.

Since few hollow trees remain in cities and suburban yards, man-made nesting boxes have been credited with helping to increase the previously declining populations of cavity-dwelling wild birds, such as bluebirds. Bluebird enthusiasts across the continent have created miles of bluebird trails which consist of bluebird nesting boxes placed at appropriate intervals.
A bird's primary consideration when choosing a nesting site is security. Protection from predators and proximity to food is of vital importance to the success of a bird's offspring.                                                                                                                                              
There are many different styles of nesting boxes available, including those that are decorative and bird-specific. Owner's Last Name recommends that before purchasing a nesting box, one should be sure that it meets these six requirements:

- Designed for the species, according to bird's size and nesting requirements.

- Ventilation holes to provide a release for heat build-up.

- Easily cleaned.

- Easily mounted or hung.

- Durable to withstand several seasons of use.

- Drainage holes in the bottom of the house.

It is entertaining and educational to watch birds as they go through the many stages of their lives, including choosing a nest site, making the nest, laying eggs, feeding their hatchlings, and then, watching the fledglings as they venture out on their own.

Upcoming Events
Lahontan Audubon Society

Garden of Speakers - Birding Wild Nevada by Nancy Santos
When  Tue, March 15, 2pm - 3pm
Where  Metropolitan Gardens Apartments, 325 E 7th St, Reno, NV 89512

Program Meeting - Bird ID Panel
When  Tue, March 22, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where  Moana Nursery at Moana Lane, Reno, Nevada, 1100 W Moana Ln, Reno, NV 89509

Birds & Books Reading Group - Welcome to Subirdia
WhenWed, March 23, 4pm - 6pm
WhereSundance Bookstore & Music, 121 California Ave, Reno, NV 89509, United States (map)

Garden of Speakers - David Arsenault - Dancing Grebes and Ventriloquist Owls
When  Wed, March 30, 2pm - 3pm
Where  Metropolitan Gardens Apartments, 325 E 7th St, Reno, NV 89512

FIELD TRIP - Susanville Sage-grouse Lek & Honey Lake, CA
When  Sat, April 2, 4am - 2pm
Where  1810 Silverada Blvd, Reno, NV 89512

Animal Ark

Currently on winter schedule.
For more information on future activities, go to http://animalark.org/ 

Nature Happenings

  • March 1 - 31: Project FeederWatch continues 
  • March 13: Daylight Savings Time - "spring forward" 
  • March 14 - 20: National Wildlife Week 
  • In a heavy snow year, meadowlarks can be seen eating mealworms along with cracked corn. 
  • Killdeer call for their mates and can show up in the most unlikely places seeking out suitable nesting sites. 
  • Townsend's Solitare are often seen on their favorite food source - Juniper berries. 
  • Male American Robins can often be heard before dawn defining their territory and calling for a mate. They are also the last birds calling in the evening. 
  • Male Red-shafted Northern Flickers can be heard throughout the day defining their territory and showing off for potential mates. 
  • Sandhill Cranes can be seen returning from the south. 
  • Check bird houses for damage and clean them before spring birds arrive. 
  • Male flickers can be heard as they drum trying to attract a mate. 
  • Bears emerge from hibernation this month. 
  • Red-tailed Hawks pair up for breeding. 
  • Peak of Bald Eagle migration. 
  • Great Horned Owls are sitting on their eggs. 
  • Red-winged Blackbirds, Killdeer and Great Blue Herons return.

Celebrating 10 years in Reno, NV! 
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509