- Doves are plump birds in the Columbidae family that have a plant-heavy omnivorous diet.
- They eat various seeds and nuts, grains, grasses, flowers, and other plant matter, as well as some insects, worms, and snails.
- Most doves are opportunistic ground feeders and will even eat discarded human foods when it’s available.
Doves belong to the Columbidae family of birds and usually have plump bodies, relatively long necks for perching birds, tails that are often long, and beaks that are short and slender. Doves are found everywhere on earth save the polar regions and the driest deserts, and the rock dove has one of the greatest ranges of any bird: it is the pigeon that has made itself at home in many cities around the world. For more information on makes up a dove’s diet, read on:
What Do Doves Eat?
Doves’ food preferences depend on the type of dove and where they live. Most doves prefer an herbivorous or granivorous diet, but some are opportunistic feeders who will augment with animal protein when necessary. So, what do doves eat? Some foods that doves like to eat are:
- Seeds, including seeds of dove weed, sunflower, hemp, safflower and crowngrasses
- Grains like wheat, rice, corn, barley, oats, and sorghum
- Grasses, including Panicum and Echinochloa
- Weeds, including knotweed, ragweed and poison ivy
- Fruits, including dates, figs and plums
- Flowers and buds
- Leaves from trees such as willows, poplars, and elms
- Insects, including ants, beetles, and grasshoppers
- Insect Larvae and Pupae
- Bone from owl pellets and animal feces
- Discarded human food such as pizza, bread, popcorn, fried chicken bones
How Do I Attract Doves to My Yard?
Most doves are ground feeders, so the best way to attract them to your yard is to simply scatter handfuls of seeds over the ground. To be a bit tidier, you can also put seeds in a ground feeder or on a platform feeder that’s open on all sides. Though hanging feeders are more likely to attract other birds, doves don’t mind taking seeds that these birds have dropped.
Though doves feed on the ground, they’ll need perches to rest on, so make sure your trees or shrubs have protruding and unpruned limbs. They’ll also perch on electrical wires and clotheslines. The ideal place is a clear area with a perimeter of shrubs and trees where the birds can make a quick escape from would-be predators.
Though just about all seed-loving birds covet black sunflower seeds, mix these in with some nuts, cracked corn, millet, safflower, and niger seeds. Just make sure to clean up old husks frequently so they won’t attract rodents, including squirrels. Make sure to have a source of clean water in the area for both bathing and drinking, and make sure to keep it clean.
How Do Doves Hunt Prey?
Though most doves are granivores, there are a few that do hunt and consume animals. Doves do not seem to have a sophisticated hunting strategy but pick up insects, grubs, caterpillars, ants, worms, and snails where they find them on the ground. If the snail is small enough, the dove simply swallows it and doesn’t bother with smashing the shell or poking its beak inside to get at the animal.
What Animals Eat Doves?
Doves are small, gentle, and defenseless birds, and their predators are numerous. Humans famously eat doves. Indeed, they were so found of passenger pigeons that they wiped them out altogether even as there were flocks with millions of birds. Besides humans, animals that have doves, their chicks, and/or their eggs as part of their diet are:
- Other birds, especially birds of prey such as hawks, falcons, eagles and owls.
- Cuckoos, blue jays, crows
- Mammals such as oncillas, mustelids, raccoons, opossums, dogs, cats, ringtail cats, bobcats, skunks, caracals and rodents.
- Reptiles, including snakes and lizards.
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