Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)


French: Tourterelle triste German: Carolinataube Spanish: Zenaida huilota
Other common names: American Mourning Dove

Columba macroura


, 1758,

West Indies


Formerly placed in genus Zenaidura, along with Z. auriculata and Z. graysoni, and these three are clearly close relatives, as confirmed by genetic evidence#R. Until recently considered conspecific with Z. graysoni (which see). Although race clarionensis is geographically separated from mainland forms of Z. macroura by Z. graysoni, it is closer morphologically to Z. macroura: its forehead is mid-brown, this being the strongest manifestation of its generally rather darker colour on breast and upperparts (2); its bill is rather longer and feet notably bigger (2), but still not as large as those of Z. graysoni. Form described as race tresmariae (Tres Marías Is) was merely a migrant specimen of carolinensis#R. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. m. marginella (Woodhouse, 1852) – British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba S to Baja California, Oklahoma and W Arkansas, and on to SC Mexico; winters S to Panama.
  • Z. m. carolinensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – Wisconsin, Michigan and S Ontario to C New York, S Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and S to Gulf coast of Florida, Bahamas and Bermuda.
  • Z. m. macroura (Linnaeus, 1758) – Cuba, I of Pines, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
  • Z. m. clarionensis (C. H. Townsend, 1890) – Clarion I in Revillagigedo Archipelago (off W Mexico).
  • Z. m. turturilla Wetmore, 1956 – Costa Rica and W Panama.
  • Introduced (macroura) to Hawaiian Is.

    Descriptive notes

    Male 27–34 cm, 91–170 g; female 22·5–30 cm, 92·6–156 g. Forward part of forehead and superciliary fawn becoming grey on cap and occiput... read more


    Song a low-pitched, mourning cooing “whoo'” repeated with intervals. Also several... read more


    A very successful species that has adapted well to human agricultural practices. Usually in savanna... read more

    Food and feeding

    Opportunistic, although almost the entire diet consists of seeds and other plant matter. Seeds are taken from the ground A pair... read more


    Length and peak of season varies between regions; season short in N latitudes; in S of range, may occur Feb–Oct; in Utah to... read more


    Birds in C & S North America do not migrate. Ringing studies demonstrated species resident at... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. This is one of the most abundant species in North America, with a US population estimated at at least 350 million birds. Numbers increase from spring... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).