Fall-Winter Habitat Use and Food Habits of Doves in Southwestern Oklahoma

Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) behavior, habitat use, and food habits were studied in southwestern Oklahoma during faIl-winter. Birds present during the September-October hunting season were summer residents and migrants. They formed large feeding flocks containing up to 1,000 birds, flew 3-12 km from night roosts to feeding sites, and fed in morning and late afternoon. These doves fed in wheatfields when waste grain was available; otherwise, they fed on haygrazer (sorghum x sudan grass), sunflower (Hetianthus sp.), and weed seeds. Doves day-roosted in ravines or uplands near the stock ponds where they drank at midday. At evening they drank at other stock ponds before night-roosting in river bottom or upland trees and thickets. Winter residents in smaller flocks (15-300) roosted and watered close to their feeding fields, and at the roosts they perched low in the trees or sat on the ground. Wintering birds spent longer periods feeding and evidenced little flying that could be considered unnecessary to acquiring food. Their efforts seemed directed at conserving energy and maximizing food intake. The principal winter food was haygrazer. Habitat components used by winter-resident doves were fields of haygrazer or sorghum close to surface water and roosts.

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