Do Doves Lay Eggs On The Ground: This seemingly straightforward question unveils a fascinating aspect of avian behavior, biology, and ecology. Doves, belonging to the family Columbidae, are known for their gentle and graceful demeanor, which often raises inquiries about their reproductive habits. The simple answer is yes, some doves do lay their eggs on the ground, but it’s a topic that merits a deeper exploration.

Doves exhibit a remarkable diversity, with over 300 species inhabiting a wide range of environments worldwide. While some species prefer trees and cliffs for nesting, others have evolved to thrive in grasslands, deserts, and other terrestrial landscapes. Ground-nesting doves, as the name suggests, opt for nest sites at or near ground level, demonstrating their capacity to adapt to specific environmental conditions.

Do Doves Lay Eggs On The Ground

These ground-nesting doves, such as the common ground dove (Columbina passerina) and the Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto), have evolved certain characteristics that make them well-suited to this nesting strategy. Their plumage often blends with the surroundings, providing camouflage and protection against potential predators. They also tend to choose concealed locations, such as tall grasses or shrubs, which further shield their nests from harm.

The factors that drive doves to lay eggs on the ground necessitates an exploration of their nesting habits, reproductive biology, and the ever-present pressures of survival in the wild. While this may seem like a humble aspect of avian life, the choice of where to lay their eggs plays a crucial role in the continued success of these remarkable birds. So, let’s embark on a journey to uncover the reasons behind this intriguing avian behavior and the intricate world of ground-nesting doves.

Where do doves lay their eggs?

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Mourning doves often choose protected spots on the ledges of houses for their twiggy nests. After the pair finishes building the nest—which takes two to four days—the female usually lays the first egg within a couple of days, and a second egg a day or two later.

Doves, like many other bird species, choose a variety of locations to lay their eggs, and the specific choice may depend on the species and environmental conditions. Generally, doves prefer nesting sites that provide safety, shelter, and accessibility to food sources. Common nesting locations for doves include trees, shrubs, buildings, and even the ground. Here are four paragraphs explaining where doves typically lay their eggs:

Trees and Shrubs: Many dove species, such as the mourning dove and Eurasian collared dove, prefer nesting in trees and shrubs. They often select a sturdy horizontal branch, where they build a simple nest made of twigs, grass, and other plant materials. These elevated nests provide protection from ground predators and offer a clear vantage point for the parents to keep an eye on their surroundings.

Buildings and Human Structures: Doves have adapted to urban environments and frequently choose to nest on buildings and other man-made structures. They may nest on window ledges, under eaves, or even in balcony planters. These locations offer protection from natural predators and the elements, making them attractive nesting sites for doves living in urban areas.

Ground Nests: Some dove species, like the common ground dove, are ground-nesting birds. They create shallow depressions in the soil and lay their eggs directly on the ground. These nests are often hidden within tall grasses or under low shrubs, providing camouflage and protection for the eggs. Ground-nesting doves are adapted to this environment and rely on their cryptic plumage for concealment.

Rocky Outcrops: In some regions, doves, such as the rock pigeon, choose to nest on rocky cliffs and outcrops. They may lay their eggs in crevices or small niches in the rock face. This choice of nesting site offers a natural barrier to ground predators and can be found in both natural landscapes and urban settings where suitable rocky terrain is available.

It’s important to note that the specific nesting preferences of doves may vary based on their habitat and the availability of suitable nesting sites. Their choice of location is often influenced by the need to protect their eggs and young from potential threats and environmental conditions.

Do doves lay on the ground?

A Mourning Dove lies belly down on the soil of a garden bed. It fluffs its feathers, then relaxes its wings, draping them outward to expose fully its back and rump to the morning sun.

Yes, some dove species, such as the common ground dove, do indeed lay their eggs on the ground. Ground-nesting is a characteristic behavior of certain dove species, and it’s an adaptation to their specific environmental conditions. These doves create shallow depressions in the soil, which serve as nests for their eggs. Here are three paragraphs explaining why and how doves lay their eggs on the ground:

Natural Adaptation: Ground-nesting in doves is a natural adaptation to their environment. Doves that nest on the ground are typically found in open habitats like grasslands, deserts, and meadows, where trees and shrubs may be scarce. By laying their eggs on the ground, these doves take advantage of the cover provided by the surrounding vegetation, such as tall grasses or low shrubs, which helps conceal their nests from potential predators.

Nest Construction: Ground-nesting doves construct simple nests by scraping away the top layer of soil or vegetation, creating a shallow depression in the ground. They may line the nest with softer materials like twigs, leaves, or grass, which provide some insulation and comfort for the eggs. Despite their simplicity, these nests are effective in providing protection to the eggs, particularly from aerial predators.

Camouflage and Safety: Ground-nesting doves have evolved to have cryptic plumage, which helps them blend into their surroundings. This camouflage is an essential adaptation that helps protect both the nesting doves and their eggs. The low-profile nests on the ground are less conspicuous to ground-based predators, and the parents are usually nearby to guard against potential threats. While ground nests may be more vulnerable to some dangers, these doves have developed strategies to mitigate risks and ensure the survival of their offspring.

It’s worth noting that not all dove species nest on the ground; the choice of nesting location can vary among different species and is influenced by factors like habitat, food availability, and environmental conditions. Ground-nesting doves have evolved to thrive in specific ecosystems where this nesting strategy offers advantages for their survival and reproduction.

Why do doves lay on the ground and spread their wings?

When sunbathing, birds position themselves with their backs to the sun, so sunlight hits the maximum amount of plumage, according to The Spruce(Opens in a new window). They fluff up their feathers on their heads, spread their tail feathers and outstretch one or both wings.

Doves, like many other bird species, may engage in a behavior known as “sunbathing” or “ground-bathing,” where they lay on the ground and spread their wings. This behavior has several potential reasons and benefits.

Sunbathing for Feather Maintenance: One primary reason doves spread their wings on the ground is to engage in sunbathing, which helps them maintain their feathers. Sunlight is essential for maintaining feather health by helping to kill feather parasites like mites and lice. By exposing their feathers to direct sunlight, doves can effectively sterilize and clean their plumage. The radiant warmth of the sun can also help stimulate preen gland activity, leading to the distribution of natural oils that improve feather waterproofing and overall feather condition.

Thermoregulation: Spreading wings while on the ground can serve as a means of thermoregulation for doves. When the weather is hot, the birds can dissipate excess body heat by exposing a larger surface area of their skin to the air. This behavior can help regulate their body temperature and prevent overheating. Conversely, it can also help them warm up when the weather is cooler, as the sun’s warmth penetrates their plumage and reaches their skin.

Stretching and Relaxation: Spreading their wings while on the ground may also be a form of stretching and relaxation for doves. It allows them to flex their wing muscles and promote blood circulation. This behavior might provide doves with a sense of comfort and relaxation, helping them stay agile and ready for flight when needed. Additionally, it can be a sign of contentment, as doves may engage in this behavior when they feel safe and secure in their surroundings.

While sunbathing and wing-spreading are relatively common behaviors among doves and other birds, the exact reasons can vary between individual birds and may be influenced by environmental conditions, time of day, and the bird’s overall health. It’s a fascinating aspect of avian behavior that contributes to the well-being and maintenance of these graceful creatures.

How long do doves leave their eggs?

Incubation is by both parents, about 14 days. Young: Both parents feed young “pigeon milk.” Young leave nest at about 15 days, usually wait nearby to be fed for next 1-2 weeks. One pair may raise as many as 5-6 broods per year in southern areas.

Doves typically do not leave their eggs unattended for extended periods. They are attentive parents, taking turns incubating the eggs and keeping them warm. The exact duration of time they spend on the nest can vary depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Incubation Period: The incubation period for dove eggs can vary by species but usually ranges from about 12 to 14 days. During this time, the adult doves, both the male and female, take turns incubating the eggs. They exchange roles at intervals, with one bird sitting on the nest while the other searches for food. The dove on the nest keeps the eggs warm and regulates their temperature to ensure proper development.

Brief Absences: When adult doves leave the nest, it is usually for short periods, typically ranging from a few minutes to an hour or so. They are cautious and return frequently to check on the eggs, especially during the incubation period. These brief absences help ensure that both parents have the opportunity to forage for food, as maintaining their own health and energy levels is vital to successfully raising their chicks.

Continuous Attention After Hatching: Once the eggs hatch, the adult doves continue to provide constant care and attention to their chicks. They take turns feeding and brooding the nestlings, and both parents are actively involved in the feeding and protection of the young doves. It’s during this post-hatching period that the chicks are most vulnerable, so the parents maintain a watchful presence.

The attentive care and shared responsibilities of the adult doves help ensure the survival of their offspring. They minimize the risk of the eggs or chicks being exposed to predators or environmental extremes while also providing essential warmth and nourishment to promote the healthy development of their young.

Do Doves Lay Eggs On The Ground

What are the advantages of ground nesting for doves?

Ground nesting offers several advantages for doves, which are a group of birds in the family Columbidae. Firstly, ground nesting provides these birds with easy access to food resources. Doves primarily feed on seeds, grains, and other plant materials found on the ground. By nesting on the ground, they are close to their food source, reducing the energy and time required for foraging. This can be especially important for doves, which are typically granivorous and rely on a consistent food supply.

Ground nesting can offer some protection from predators. Doves often select concealed or well-hidden spots for their nests, such as grassy or shrubby areas. These locations can make it challenging for ground-based predators, like snakes and small mammals, to locate and access the nests. Doves also tend to have cryptic plumage that blends in with their surroundings, further reducing the risk of being spotted by potential threats.

Another advantage of ground nesting for doves is that it allows for efficient thermoregulation. Ground nests can take advantage of the earth’s thermal properties, which help maintain a stable temperature within the nest. This can be crucial in regulating the incubation of eggs and protecting nestlings from extreme temperature fluctuations. Ground nests can also take advantage of radiant heat from the sun, which can help warm the eggs and nestlings.

Ground nesting can facilitate the use of communal or colonial nesting habits. Many dove species, such as the mourning dove, prefer to nest in close proximity to one another. Ground nests allow for this clustering, making it easier for these birds to establish nesting colonies. This social nesting behavior can enhance their ability to detect predators and share information about food sources and other resources, further contributing to their overall reproductive success.

Ground nesting provides doves with convenient access to food resources, protection from ground-based predators, effective thermoregulation, and the opportunity to engage in communal nesting practices. These advantages have evolved as adaptations that help doves thrive in their natural habitats.

How do ground-nesting doves protect their eggs from potential threats?

Ground-nesting doves have developed several strategies to protect their eggs from potential threats. These birds often choose concealed or well-hidden nesting sites in grassy or shrubby areas, making it difficult for ground-based predators to locate their nests. This selection of camouflaged nesting locations is a primary line of defense. Doves also have cryptic plumage that blends with their surroundings, reducing the likelihood of being detected by potential threats as they come and go from their nests.

Another protective behavior exhibited by ground-nesting doves is their keen sense of vigilance. They are known for being highly alert and watchful near their nests. If they spot a potential threat approaching, they may engage in distraction displays, feigning injury to lure the predator away from the nest. This diversionary tactic can be effective in drawing attention away from their vulnerable eggs.

In addition to these behavioral adaptations, doves have some physical features that aid in egg protection. For example, their nests are often shallow scrapes in the ground, which can make the eggs less conspicuous to predators. Doves also tend to lay eggs that are well-camouflaged, often white or cream-colored with subtle markings that blend into the nest’s surroundings.

Communal nesting practices, where multiple dove pairs nest close to one another, can enhance the protection of their eggs. This social nesting behavior allows them to work together to detect and deter predators. When one pair sounds an alarm or engages in distraction displays, neighboring doves may join in, creating a chorus of warning signals to thwart potential threats.

Ground-nesting doves employ a combination of nest site selection, cryptic plumage, vigilant behavior, and even cooperation with neighboring pairs to protect their eggs from potential threats in their natural habitats. These adaptations have evolved over time to enhance their reproductive success.

How do doves prepare the ground and construct their nests when laying eggs on the ground?

Ground-nesting doves follow a simple yet effective process when preparing the ground and constructing their nests to lay eggs.

Nest Site Selection: The first step involves choosing a suitable nesting site. Doves typically look for areas with low vegetation, such as grassy fields, shrubby undergrowth, or even open woodlands. They often select spots that are well-hidden and provide natural camouflage, making it challenging for predators to find their nests. Doves might use the same nesting site from year to year, benefiting from the familiarity and security of the location.

Nest Scrape: Once a suitable spot is chosen, the dove will begin to prepare the nest site by creating a shallow depression or scrape in the ground. The dove uses its beak and feet to remove debris, twigs, and leaves from the chosen area. The resulting nest scrape is typically just deep enough to cradle the eggs, and it may be lined with a few pieces of vegetation, such as grass, twigs, or even their own feathers.

Egg Laying: After constructing the nest scrape, the female dove lays her eggs in it. Doves typically lay one or two eggs per clutch, and the eggs are typically white or cream-colored with subtle markings. The eggs are carefully placed within the nest scrape to keep them secure and protected.

Incubation: Once the eggs are laid, both the male and female doves take turns incubating them. They sit on the eggs to keep them warm and maintain the proper temperature for the embryos to develop. The incubation period varies depending on the dove species but generally lasts for a couple of weeks. During this time, the doves continue to keep a vigilant watch for potential threats.

Ground-nesting doves prepare the ground for their nests by selecting concealed sites, creating shallow nest scrapes, laying their eggs within these depressions, and carefully incubating the eggs to ensure the survival of their offspring. Their nesting behavior is adapted to their environment, providing them with the best chances for successful reproduction while minimizing the risk of predation.

Are there specific environmental factors that influence a dove’s decision to nest on the ground?

Several environmental factors can influence a dove’s decision to nest on the ground. Doves are a diverse group of birds that include species like mourning doves and ground doves, which are known for their ground-nesting habits. One critical factor is habitat availability. Ground-nesting doves often choose locations with suitable ground cover, such as grasslands, open fields, or scrubby areas, as these provide a relatively concealed and protected environment for their nests. The presence of vegetation cover can help shield the nest from predators and weather conditions, making it an appealing nesting site.

Another crucial environmental factor is predation risk. Ground-nesting doves might opt for ground nests if the threat of aerial predators, such as raptors, is relatively low in their habitat. Being closer to the ground allows them to evade aerial threats more effectively. The availability of food resources influences nest site selection. Doves are granivorous birds and typically nest near areas with easy access to seeds and grains. Ground-level nests in proximity to their primary food sources can minimize the energy expended foraging and feeding their young, making ground nesting a practical choice.

Climate and weather conditions can also play a role in influencing a dove’s decision to nest on the ground. Ground nests may provide better insulation and protection from extreme temperatures, especially in regions with harsh climates. For example, the ground offers better temperature stability than elevated nests, which can be exposed to more significant temperature fluctuations. These factors collectively illustrate how environmental conditions and habitat suitability, predation risk, and resource availability can guide a dove’s choice to nest on the ground. Understanding these factors is crucial for conserving dove populations and their habitats.


The question of whether doves lay eggs on the ground opens a window into the intricacies of avian adaptation and ecological diversity. While the answer is affirmative, it is far from a one-size-fits-all response. Doves, those emblematic symbols of peace and tranquility, exhibit a wide range of nesting behaviors and preferences across their numerous species and habitats.

The act of laying eggs on the ground is a testament to the versatility and resourcefulness of these birds. It underscores the importance of considering the evolutionary history, ecological niche, and survival strategies of each species to truly understand this aspect of their reproductive behavior. Ground-nesting doves are not merely a product of random choice; they are a product of millions of years of evolution and natural selection.

Do Doves Lay Eggs On The Ground

The diverse world of ground-nesting doves provides insights into the evolutionary arms race that takes place between these birds and their predators. Their cryptic plumage, choice of concealed nest sites, and behavioral adaptations have evolved as mechanisms to thwart potential threats. These doves have mastered the art of survival, employing the ground as a sanctuary where they can rear their young in relative safety.

By exploring the reasons behind ground nesting in doves, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate web of life in our natural world. It reminds us that even seemingly mundane aspects of an animal’s life can be rich with complexity and significance. This behavior sheds light on the fascinating ways in which birds have found their place in the world, adapting to their environments and carving out their niches.