Mourning Dove as a Pet – Does It Work?

Choosing a new pet is an exciting endeavor, and those looking to own a bird may want to consider the Mourning Dove. These birds are known for their gentle nature and unique appearance, making them an attractive option. However, before bringing one home, it’s essential to explore whether a Mourning Dove is a feasible pet option.

Mourning Dove as a Pet - Does It Work?

Key Takeaways:

  • Deciding to own a Mourning Dove involves considering various factors, such as their legal status and care requirements.
  • Mourning Doves are gentle birds with a unique appearance, making them an attractive pet option.
  • Providing an appropriate living environment, diet, and socialization are vital to ensure your Mourning Dove is healthy and well-cared for.
  • Like any pet, owning a Mourning Dove requires a commitment to providing daily care and attention to their needs.
  • Before bringing a Mourning Dove home, it’s essential to research their behavior, health issues, and needs, to ensure they are the right pet for your lifestyle and living situation.

Legal Status of Mourning Doves as Pets

Before deciding to keep a Mourning Dove as a pet, it’s important to understand the legal situation regarding owning one. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is illegal to keep any migratory birds as pets in the United States without a permit. Mourning Doves fall under this category, and therefore, require a permit to keep them legally.

To obtain a permit, prospective dove owners must first complete an application and provide detailed information on how they plan to care for the bird. The application will be reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and if approved, a permit will be issued. It’s worth noting that permits are not granted for the sole purpose of keeping a bird as a pet; they are generally only granted for education, rehabilitation, or scientific purposes.

In addition to the legal requirements for permits, certain states and municipalities may also have their own regulations regarding owning Mourning Doves as pets. It’s essential to check local laws before deciding to keep one as a pet.

Legal Requirements for Owning a Mourning Dove as a Pet

Requirement Description
Permit Required under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
Application Must be completed and submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Approval Permits are generally only granted for education, rehabilitation, or scientific purposes
Local Regulations Check with your state and municipality for any additional ownership regulations

It’s important to remember that the legal requirements and regulations are in place to protect the Mourning Dove population and ensure that these birds are not taken from the wild unnecessarily. Prospective pet owners must be prepared to follow all legal requirements and regulations to keep their pet Mourning Dove legally and responsibly.

What You Need to Know Before Getting a Mourning Dove

If you are considering a Mourning Dove as a pet, it is crucial to understand the care and attention they require. Here are some essential things you should know before bringing one home:


Mourning Doves need plenty of space to fly and exercise. A cage or aviary should be at least two feet wide, two feet deep, and four feet tall. They also need a perch to rest and sleep. If you plan to keep more than one dove, make sure the cage is large enough for all of them to coexist peacefully.


Mourning Doves are primarily seed-eaters, and their diet should consist of a variety of seeds, including millet, sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds. You can also provide them with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, berries, and leafy greens. Make sure they have access to clean water at all times.


Mourning Doves are relatively low-maintenance pets, but they do require daily attention. You will need to clean their cage regularly, including replacing their food and water. Additionally, it is essential to monitor their health, and if you notice any concerning symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.

Overall, Mourning Doves can make wonderful pets, provided you are willing to provide the care they require. Be sure to do your research and prepare appropriately before bringing one home.

The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Mourning Dove as a Pet

As with any pet, keeping a Mourning Dove has its advantages and disadvantages. Before deciding to bring one home, it’s essential to weigh both the pros and cons.


Advantages Details
Quiet nature Unlike other birds, Mourning Doves are relatively quiet.
Gentle temperament These birds are known for their gentle and calm nature, making them suitable pets for families with children.
Low maintenance A Mourning Dove’s simple diet and minimal grooming needs make them easy to care for.
Lifespan Mourning Doves can live up to 15 years if provided with proper care, making them long-term companions for pet owners.
Visual appeal Mourning Doves are beautiful birds with distinctive feathers that can add to any bird lover’s collection.


Disadvantages Details
Sensitivity to stress Changes in their environment can stress out Mourning Doves and lead to health problems.
Messy nature These birds produce a lot of droppings, and feathers can scatter, making cleaning up after them a challenge.
Legal restrictions While legal in most states, some regions require special permits or completely prohibit keeping Mourning Doves as pets.
Socializing difficulties Mourning Doves are not as social and interactive as other domesticated birds, making building a bond with them challenging.
Noise level Although generally quiet, Mourning Doves can coo extremely loudly, which may be irritating to some pet owners or neighbors.

While keeping a Mourning Dove can be a rewarding experience, it’s essential to consider both the pros and cons before making a commitment.

Creating the Ideal Habitat for Your Mourning Dove

Providing a suitable living environment is crucial for the physical and mental well-being of your Mourning Dove. Here are some guidelines on setting up the ideal habitat for your feathered friend:

Aspect Guidelines
Cage setup Use a large cage with horizontal bars, at least 24 inches wide, 24 inches deep, and 24 inches high, with a solid base to prevent escape. Provide at least one nest box and perches, ensuring they’re not too high or too low and are thick enough for good grip.
Environmental enrichment Add toys and accessories to prevent boredom and encourage activity, such as mirrors, swings, and puzzle feeders. Offer natural perches and tree branches to promote climbing and exercising.

In addition, make sure the cage is placed in a quiet area away from excessive noise and direct sunlight. Clean the cage and accessories daily, and provide fresh food and water daily.

Feeding and Nutrition for Mourning Doves

Proper nutrition is essential to keep your Mourning Dove healthy and happy. A balanced diet should contain a variety of seeds, including millet, sunflower, and safflower seeds. Commercial dove food can also be used, but it should be supplemented with other foods.

Feeding your dove requires a consistent schedule of once or twice a day. Factoring in the bird’s size, offer about two tablespoons of food each time. Ensure the bird has access to fresh water throughout the day.

Food Types

A good dove diet should consist of 75% seeds and 25% fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce offers essential vitamins and minerals, as well as hydration.

Foods to consider include:

  • Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
  • Carrots, peas, and cooked sweet potato
  • Citrus fruit and berries

Avoid feeding your dove avocado, chocolate, and caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee or tea. These can be toxic to birds and lead to fatal health problems.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Supplements can be added to your Mourning Dove’s diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. Calcium is crucial for healthy bone development, and a cuttlebone or mineral block can provide the necessary amount. Vitamin D supplements can also aid in calcium absorption.

Food Groups and Recommendations

Food Group Examples Recommendations
Seeds Millet, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds 75% of diet
Fruits and Vegetables Kale, spinach, carrots, peas, sweet potato, citrus fruit, berries 25% of diet
Calcium Supplements Cuttlebone, mineral block As needed for healthy bone development
Vitamin D Supplements N/A As needed to aid in calcium absorption

Proper nutrition is essential to maintain your Mourning Dove’s well-being. Be sure to offer a balanced diet with a variety of seeds and fresh fruits and vegetables. Supplements can also aid in overall health and wellness.

Interacting and Bonding with Your Mourning Dove

Keeping a Mourning Dove as a pet can be a rewarding experience, as they can quickly become friendly and affectionate towards their owners. However, bonding with a dove requires patience and effort.

Handling Techniques: When handling a Mourning Dove, it is crucial to do so gently and calmly. They are delicate birds, and sudden movements can frighten them. Start by placing your hand in the cage and allowing the dove to approach you before attempting to pick them up. Use both hands, one to support their body and the other to hold their wings close to their body.

Training: Training your Mourning Dove can create a deeper bond between you and your feathered friend. Start with simple commands, such as stepping up onto your finger. Use positive reinforcement, such as treats, to encourage the desired behavior. Remember to keep training sessions short, and be patient if your dove doesn’t catch on right away.

Building Trust: Building trust with your Mourning Dove is essential for a positive relationship. Spend time near their cage, talking to them softly and offering treats. This allows the dove to become familiar with your presence and feel more comfortable around you. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them.

Bonding with your Mourning Dove can take time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. Remember to be patient, gentle, and consistent in your interactions, and your pet dove will become a loving companion.

Common Health Issues and Care for Mourning Doves

While Mourning Doves are relatively hardy birds, there are still some health issues that can arise. Here are some common problems and how to prevent them:

Health Issue Symptoms Treatment
Psittacosis Fever, loss of appetite, breathing difficulties Antibiotic treatment prescribed by a veterinarian
Parasites Flaky skin, feather loss, lethargy Anti-parasitic medication as prescribed by a veterinarian
Pox Yellow plaques or sores around the eyes, mouth, or feet There is no cure for Pox, but the virus will run its course in 1-3 weeks. Keep your dove clean and dry.

To ensure your Mourning Dove stays healthy, it is important to provide a clean environment, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. If you notice any unusual changes in behavior, appetite, or appearance, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Acclimating Your Mourning Dove to its New Home

Before bringing home your new Mourning Dove, it’s important to prepare its living environment and plan a gradual transition to acclimate your pet to its new surroundings. Doves can be easily stressed, and a sudden change can be detrimental to their overall health and well-being.

Start by setting up a suitable habitat, including a safe and secure enclosure with plenty of room for your dove to fly and move around. Gradually introduce your dove to its new home, starting with short periods of supervised exploration time outside the enclosure. Offer your hand as a perch for your dove to get comfortable with you and to show your dove that you are a friendly presence.

It’s also important to provide a stress-free environment with minimal noise and activity. Keep other pets and loud household appliances away and provide a consistent routine for feeding and cleaning. This will help your dove feel secure and adapt to its new home more quickly.

During the acclimation period, be patient and observe your dove’s behavior. Look for any signs of stress, such as loss of appetite or excessive flapping, and adjust accordingly. With patience and consistent care, your Mourning Dove will quickly settle into its new home and become a beloved addition to your family.

Understanding Mourning Dove Behavior

Mourning Doves are known for their gentle demeanor and soft, soothing cooing. Understanding their behavior is crucial to providing appropriate care and maintaining their well-being as pets.

Mating Habits

Mourning Doves are monogamous birds that form strong pair bonds. They typically mate for life and often display affectionate behaviors, such as billing, where they touch their beaks together. During mating season, males will perform aerial displays to attract females.


The soft cooing of Mourning Doves is a distinct characteristic of these birds. They also produce a variety of other vocalizations, such as whistles and guttural croaks. These sounds can convey different messages, including warnings, calls for their mate, and territorial displays.


Mourning Doves are generally peaceful and calm birds. They can make great pets for those seeking a low-maintenance and gentle companion. However, they can become easily stressed and frightened by sudden movements or loud noises. It is important to provide them with a quiet and calm environment.

“Mourning Doves are such gentle and soothing birds to have as pets. I have loved bonding with mine and learning about their unique behaviors.” – Emily, dove owner


Mourning Doves are not the most social birds and prefer the company of their mate over humans or other birds. They can become attached to their owner with consistent and gentle handling, but they do not require frequent attention or interaction.

Flight Characteristics

Mourning Doves are fast and agile fliers, capable of reaching speeds of up to 55 mph. They are also strong and enduring birds that can cover long distances during migration. Pet owners should provide them with sufficient space to fly and exercise within their living environment.


After exploring the key factors involved in keeping a Mourning Dove as a pet, it’s clear there are both advantages and challenges to consider. While doves can be affectionate and social animals, they do require specific care and living conditions to thrive.

If you’re considering a Mourning Dove as a pet, ensure you have the time, resources, and knowledge to provide them with a suitable habitat. Remember to check your state or local regulations on owning doves, as permits or licenses may be required.

Overall, if you’re willing to make the commitment to care for a Mourning Dove, they can make a rewarding and unique addition to your household. By understanding their behaviors, nutritional needs, and health concerns, you’re well on your way to providing a happy and healthy home for your feathered friend.

Thank you for reading our guide on keeping a Mourning Dove as a pet. We hope it has provided you with valuable insights and considerations as you make this decision.

Keywords: mourning dove as a pet


Can mourning doves be kept as pets?

Yes, mourning doves can be kept as pets. However, it’s important to note that they are wild birds and have specific care requirements.

Is it legal to have a mourning dove as a pet?

The legal status of owning a mourning dove as a pet varies by location. In some areas, it may require permits or licenses. It’s important to check local regulations before keeping a mourning dove as a pet.

What do I need to know before getting a mourning dove?

Before getting a mourning dove as a pet, it’s essential to understand their specific care needs. This includes providing them with proper habitat, diet, and socialization.

What are the pros and cons of keeping a mourning dove as a pet?

Some advantages of having a mourning dove as a pet include their gentle nature and soothing cooing sounds. However, it’s important to consider factors like their long lifespan and the noise they can make.

How do I create the ideal habitat for my mourning dove?

Creating a suitable habitat for a mourning dove involves providing a spacious cage with perches, toys, and environmental enrichment. It should mimic their natural environment as much as possible.

What should I feed my mourning dove?

Mourning doves should be fed a diet that consists mainly of seeds, such as millet, safflower, and sunflower seeds. It’s important to provide them with a balanced diet and fresh water.

How can I bond with my mourning dove?

Building trust and bonding with a mourning dove requires patience and gentle handling. Spending time near their cage, talking softly, and offering treats can help establish a positive relationship.

What are the common health issues and care for mourning doves?

Common health issues in mourning doves can include parasites, respiratory infections, and vitamin deficiencies. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a clean habitat are essential for their care.

How do I acclimate my mourning dove to its new home?

Acclimating a mourning dove to its new home should be done gradually, providing a stress-free environment. Allowing them to adjust to their new surroundings at their own pace is crucial.

What should I know about mourning dove behavior?

Understanding mourning dove behavior can help in providing proper care. They are known for their mournful cooing, monogamous mating habits, and gentle nature.

Related Posts