Where Do Mourning Doves Sleep? All You Need to Know

It is really common to spot a mourning dove in places like parks, or even from the view of your bedroom window. They are easy to distinguish due to their fascinating feathers that scale smoothly between colors of grey and violet, with even a hint of turquoise. However, something that you might be left wondering is where these birds actually sleep.

Mourning doves will usually sleep in places where they cannot be found or stumbled across by predators, which could be anywhere from your chimney to inside of dead trees. If you are interested in learning more about the mourning dove and their sleeping habits, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we are going to be exploring the mourning dove and taking a look at where they sleep. We are also going to provide you with some interesting information about these birds and their habits, so you can find out more about them. Just keep reading to find out more about the fascinating mourning dove.

The Difference Between Roosting And Nesting

Something that you may not have already known is that birds don’t actually sleep in their nests. There is a big difference between roosting and nesting. Roosting is what we say when we are referring to sleeping, whereas nesting is what these birds will do in order to protect their young.

Roosting is something that will occur when the bird settles down to go to sleep at night. Interestingly, birds rarely sleep in their nests, even if they have laid eggs. However, this does sometimes still happen if the bird is still young and they are still being taken care of by the parent.

Another reason why this might happen is that the night is particularly old, and the parent wants to ensure that the eggs are going to be kept warm.

Nesting is something that can be done pretty much anywhere, but roosting is something that needs to take place in a warm area. It also must be in a location where the birds will be safe enough to get a good night’s sleep.

In order to keep their feathers from freezing up in cold winters, these birds will typically head towards a sheltered area, like a mountain cavity, to sleep at night. 

What You Need To Know About Dove Sleeping Habits

Mourning doves are very unique when it comes to different aspects of their nightlife, and this is something that is evident through how they sleep.

Unlike the majority of other bird species that will place their heads behind their shoulder feathers when they are sleeping, mourning doves will rest their heads between their shoulders. This will allow them to be as warm as possible, as they will keep their heads as close to their bodies as they can.

These birds can also sleep with one eye open and one eye closed if they feel that they need to. If mourning doves are weary of a certain threat in the area that they are roosting in, they can sleep with just one eye closed. Unlike human eyes, dove eyes are able to send information to just one side of their brain.

However, as you may have expected, this will lower their quality of sleep, as only one half of their brain has shut down. Although, this is a highly effective defense mechanism when it comes to predators.

Something else that you might have noticed about these birds is that they will sleep when they are perched on an isolated tree branch. Similarly to some other birds, they have the ability to hold onto their perch, even when they are sleeping.

How Do Mourning Doves Choose Where To Sleep?

There are three main things that a mourning dove will consider when they are choosing somewhere to sleep. These things are security, resources, and warmth, and these are the three things that we are going to explore in more detail below.

Safety And Security

One of the main priorities that mourning doves have when it comes to choosing somewhere to sleep is to ensure that the area is both safe and secure. They are going to be looking out for places that are as far away from predators as possible.

If this is not an option, then they will find somewhere to hide for the night where it is made difficult for the predator to find them.

This is why you might find mourning doves sleeping in deciduous or coniferous trees, especially when it is outside of their breeding season. They might even choose to roost at dense clusters of bushes and dead trees with cavities in them.

To ensure that they are as secure as possible, these birds will carefully choose the safest place within their habitat, and they will stick to it, even during the daytime. If they are nesting in tree cavities, then they are likely to also nest in areas like chimneys or nest boxes.

Nutrition And Food Resources

Around 90% of the mourning dove’s diet is made up of seeds, which is why they will need a lot of water too.

You will often find mourning doves at farming locations, as they will have access to both of these things. Farms will almost always be near a water source, and they have large quantities of seeds. This makes farms suitable locations for doves that are looking for reliable access to food and water.


Winter is a time of the year that can be very challenging for mourning doves, and this is because they struggle to keep themselves, and sometimes even their eggs, warm. As well as their overall sleeping position, they will also choose a warm place to ensure that they don’t freeze during cold nights.

Mourning doves are birds that can be severely impacted by the cold weather, and they can get frostbite, lose toenails, and damage their feet. This is why they tend to roost together in large numbers during the winter. 

How Sociable Are Mourning Doves When They Are Roosting?

Mourning doves are actually one of the most sociable bird breeds that you will find, and they will usually tend to stick together and be very loyal. They will even take care of their young together at times.

The sounds that these birds make in the morning are produced by the male in order to attract the female dove. This is so they can breed in the mating season.

When they are mating and taking care of the eggs, the couple will roost together every night. Once they begin collecting all of the materials for the nest, the two birds will become inseparable. Mourning doves are so loyal to their partners that some of them breed with the same partner each mating season until one of them dies.

Outside of breeding seasons, mourning doves don’t stick with their mates, but they will roost in even larger groups, which are called flocks. These flocks will roost together, but they will also eat together throughout the day. Some of these flocks will even stick together during the winter.

The average size of the flock will typically be between 20 and 50 doves, and this is quite large in comparison to other flocks.

Mourning Dove Families

These birds tend to breed for the majority of the year. The mating season for mourning doves will begin in February and run all the way through until October. During this period, the pairs will roost together, but they will also share out their parental tasks.

Both the male and female doves will incubate the eggs together, and this is something that can take around 2 weeks in total. They will take it in turns to sit on the eggs, but more often than not, the female will do this during the night, and the male will take his turn throughout the day.

Once the eggs have hatched, the squabs will be too young to feed and look after themselves, which is why their parents will take it in turns to feed and care for them while they are still learning how to fly.

It isn’t uncommon for mourning doves to breed more than once in a breeding season, as long as they have a good amount of food resources around to feed to their young. They will often feed their squabs a diet of seeds and fruit, but sometimes they will bring small insects too.

How To Attract Mourning Doves

Put out lots of seeds – These doves love to eat seeds, especially wheat and millet. You should put these seeds in a fly-through bird feeder if you want to get their attention.

Put a bird bath in your backyard – Mourning doves need lots of water to keep their diet balanced, and a birdbath can attract them into your garden.

Provide nesting resources – If you leave some of the resources that these birds need next to your birdfeeder, then they might come to your yard to get the things that they need to build their nests.