Seasonality of Mourning Dove Nesting in Florida

Seasonality of nesting by mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) in north-central Florida was investigated in 1979-80 by assessing changes in call (coo) counts, gonad size, nesting activity, and crop gland development. We assessed the incidence of nesting during the fall and possible impacts of hunting on dove productivity. Weekly call counts taken during this study indicated that incidence of cooing was highly variable; the highest levels of cooing occurred during February and March and they diminished as the spring and summer progressed. Very little cooing was recorded from October through December. Recrudescence of testes in adult males occurred in December, with some regression in size during September. Ovaries increased in size during February and March and diminished during August. Most adult ovaries appeared to be inactive in fall. Eggs and nests first appeared in late February of each year, peaked in both April and June, and were scarce by August and September. At least 95% of nesting activity was completed by 1 September. All birds collected during spring and summer had active crop glands but only 1 bird out of 25 (4%) collected between 1 October and 28 February had an active crop gland. All aspects of our study indicated that doves in north-central Florida nest primarily between late February and August. We found no evidence that an October-January hunting season would substantially reduce the productivity of mourning doves.

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