Photographing the Mourning Dove

Mourning dove

Mourning dove in my backyard

This photo was taken on a beautiful sunny day right after I filled the feeder with some seeds. I spotted the Mourning dove in a nearby tree waiting for the smaller birds to feed and drop some seeds from the feeder. Shortly after, the morning dove made its way to the ground to feed on the fallen black oil sunflower seeds. On this particular day, there were quite a few mourning doves (about 6) enjoying a lunch time delight.



I have noticed that I have never seen a Mourning dove become aggressive at/near the feeder. They usually wait their turn or for a clear space to open up under the feeder and quickly fly in to feed then  leave within a few minutes. According to, the Mourning dove is able to store seeds in an area of the esophagus called a crop. They fill up on seeds and fly away to a near by perch to digest the recently collected meal. This particular bird can consume up to 12-21 percent of their body weight on a daily average.  They weigh anywhere from 3.- – 6oz and have a wingspan of 17.7 inches. They can be seen in backyards, on telephone poles, and even located in the desert where they can drink brackish spring water to survive.

I did not know that these birds were considered game birds until a few months ago. While hunters harvest almost 20 million birds, their population remains abundant and non-endangered.

The Camera

I used a telephoto lens to capture the photo above. Being that is was very bright outside I was able to use a fast shutter speed and a narrow aperture. I’ve noticed that this particular bird doesn’t make sporadic movements like sparrows while feedings. Instead, they fly down, pick up seeds around them and go. Due to their feeding behavior I was able to capture photos without any blur need to adjust any other settings. Since there were about six morning doves feeding, I decided to photograph the one that was closer and had the most amount of natural light. I also used a tripod to help reduce camera shake.

On a final note

It was very nice to receive such a quiet and quick guest in my backyard that day. Their large size would make me think that they would take advantage of other birds and try to overtake the feeding area. I was pleasantly surprised at how peaceful these birds are and how easy it is to photograph them. Since I was photographing other birds that day I already had my tripod set and ready to go. However, now that I think about it, I could say that photographing this bird could easily be done handheld. I look forward to feeding and photographing many more Mourning doves that visit me in my backyard for a quick snack.

Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time


#photography #wildlife #feeder #bird #nature

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I have a strong passion for creativity, landscape, wildlife and nature photography.

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