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Missing Mourning Dove Babies! (1 Viewer)

Kate.l1

New member
We've had a Mourning Dove couple nest in a planter on our patio for three years, this is their fourth year coming to our patio. We also watch from a far and talk to them when we're in the yard, we love them!

They had two eggs this year and we watched them incubate and diligently switch places and take care of their eggs.

Yesterday, we noticed that no one was on the nest! When I looked in the nest, from inside as we can see in from our patio window we saw the eggs had hatched and the babies were moving and alive. We watched all afternoon and no mom or dad, and then this morning still no mom or daddy bird.

Just now, daddy bird came back and we were all excited! We watched him feed the babies and thought everything was back to normal but NO!

The male mourning dove picked up one of the babies and flew away with it! Then a few minutes later, he came back and took the second baby! I've never seen this behavior!

Now, Momma Mourning Dove is back! She flying around the patio, cooing, sitting in the nest, cooing, flying around again, picking at her feathers, and obviously distressed!

Is this normal? Or maybe it was another mourning dove stealing the babies? It looked like Daddy to us though. We did not touch or go close to the nest, we can only see in it from our patio window.

Any insight into these behaviors would be greatly appreciated. My children are very worried about them!

Thanks!!
 

KC Foggin

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Hi there Kate and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum :t:

I don't know what is going on. Were the babies more than a few weeks old? Could be that the parent was trying to get them out there on there own to teach them some of its behavior.

If they aren't that old, then I have no idea and hopefully someone else will.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
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Scotland
Hi Kat and a warm welcome from me too.

I'm sure you will enjoy it here and I hope to hear about all the birds you see when out and about. I'm sorry I can't help at all with your question.
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
0kay, there is no gentle way of saying this but the youngers have been predated. Just ask is how did you conclude it was the male of your nesting pair that took the young? I haven't heard of dove species raiding nests but guess it could be another pair acting aggressively though personally I highly doubt this.

The positive news is that these species are prolific breeders and it is early enough in the season to lay another clutch but doubt they will use the failed nest.
 

Lisa W

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Hi Katie, welcome to the forum. I’m hoping the situation is as KC stated.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Hi Kate, welcome!

I think it highly unlikely the nest has been predated by another Mourning Dove as columbidae (pigeon and dove family) are primarily seed/plant/fruit eaters.

However, parental infantacide (or even infantacide by a nest intruder looking to ‘move in’ on the existing pair) has often been recorded in different species of birds (I have seen it White Storks, gulls, various raptors etc) where conditions for rearing the young have changed. Sudden food shortage, chick(s) for some other reason simply failing to thrive or the death/desertion of one of the parents leaving the remaining parent to do all the chick rearing. In times like these, nature often has a (harsh) way of cutting her losses and trying again (or focussing on rearing healthier, older chicks, if food shortage or sickness precipitated the infantacide). Either way, hopefully you and your kids will enjoy seeing more chicks in the same nest again in the future. Nature really does know best though not always easy to watch. You know your own kids, at least now you have some options what to tell them and how, including KC’s suggestion.
 
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Kate.l1

New member
These babies were no more than two days old. We know because we would tell them goodnight when we would come inside from playing in the yard. It was yesterday we noticed them not in the nest when we came in.

The babies also looked as though their eyes hadn't opened, but I could be wrong, the window isn't that close. I definitely saw one of the babies moving in the nest right before all this happened though. But when he flew away with them they were just tiny fluffy things!

I'm assuming it was the male that took the babies because he's normally there during the day, and he's the skinnier of the two. I had read that the males sit in the day and the females at night. We would see the changing of the guard, as we called it, in evening.

Momma is still hanging around the yard cooing.
 

KC Foggin

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Dang Kate! Only two days old? Well there goes my suggestion.

Perhaps Deb (the post above yours) has some good information for you.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Hi Kate again

Seeing from your second post that the chicks were only a few days old and reading through your first post again, given the time the adults were away from the nest, the chicks could have been hypothermic by the time one of the parents returned. If this was the case, they would likely not have been able to take food by the time the ‘father’ returned the next afternoon and tried to feed them. A parent bird always instinctively knows when a chick will/has failed to thrive. The fact that he ‘removed’ the chicks from nest, suggests there is a good chance they will attempt a second brood (as opposed to deserting the nest).

As to why neither of the parents returned to the nest leaving the chicks all afternoon and overnight until the following afternoon, it could well be because there was a predator around (domestic cat possibly). Adult birds will observe a nest from a distance but will not return in that situation to avoid leading the predator to the nest. Unfortunately this means very young chicks, while perhaps coping without water and food for a while, can not survive getting chilled.

Just for further information, although it’s very unlikely you or the kids spooked them, (doves and pigeons will nest right above your head!) it’s always worth being aware that yours and the kids attention to the nest while you are in the yard/garden could attract predators to the nest, (especially the curiosity of cats!)

I’m sorry it was not a happier outcome for you but hope you explore the forums and continue to share your obvious love of birds with us and your kids!
 
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