What Do Doves Eat?

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: October 25, 2021


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
Most doves tend to be herbivores or granivores, but some augment their diet with animal protein.

What Foods Do Doves Eat?

Most doves tend to be herbivores or granivores, but some augment their diet with animal protein. Foods eaten are:

  • Seeds, including seeds of dove weed, sunflower, hemp, safflower and crowngrasses
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Sorghum
  • Grasses, including Panicum and Echinochloa
  • Weeds, including knotweed, ragweed and poison ivy
  • Berries
  • Fruits, including dates, figs and plums
  • Flowers and buds
  • Leaves from trees such as willows, poplars and elms
  • Acorns
  • Insects, including ants, beetles and grasshoppers
  • Insect Larvae and Pupae
  • Snails
  • Worms
  • Bone from owl pellets and animal feces
  • Pollen
  • Nectar
  • Discarded human food such as pizza, bread, popcorn, fried chicken bones

How Do I Attract Doves to My Yard?

What Do Doves Eat
A beautiful dove sitting on a fence in a garden. The best way to attract doves to your garden is to regularly scatter a handful of seeds on the ground.

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 Do Doves Eat
A white Eurasian collared dove eating bird food in Adelaide, South Australia.

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:

Next Up: The 10 Largest Deer in the World!