What Seeds Do Doves Eat: Doves, often associated with peace and tranquility, are graceful birds that have captured the hearts of many with their gentle demeanor and soothing coos. While they are known for their symbolism and beauty, they are also known for their dietary preferences, which primarily revolve around seeds. In this exploration, we delve into the world of what seeds doves eat, shedding light on the significance of these tiny morsels in the lives of these feathered creatures.

Among the various seeds consumed by doves, perhaps the most iconic is the sunflower seed. Sunflower seeds are not only a favorite of doves but are also widely regarded as a symbol of the bird feeder culture. These seeds are not only a treat for doves but also a delight for bird enthusiasts who attract these gentle creatures to their gardens and backyards. Sunflower seeds are packed with essential nutrients, including healthy fats, proteins, and fiber, making them a perfect choice for doves’ dietary needs.

What Seeds Do Doves Eat

In addition to sunflower seeds and millet, doves also consume a variety of other seeds such as safflower seeds, cracked corn, and even smaller seeds like canary seed and nyjer seed. The diversity in their seed consumption ensures that doves receive a well-rounded diet that caters to their specific nutritional requirements.

The dietary preferences of doves, particularly their affinity for seeds, not only provides insight into their biology and behavior but also encourages bird enthusiasts to create welcoming environments for these birds. Whether you’re an ardent birdwatcher or simply a nature enthusiast, offering a bounty of seeds in your garden or bird feeder is an inviting gesture to these gentle avian companions, fostering a harmonious connection with the natural world. So, as we embark on this journey through the world of dove diets, we uncover the significance of seeds and the role they play in sustaining these beloved birds.

What is the best bird seed for doves?

White proso millet

White millet is a favorite with ground-feeding birds including quails, native American sparrows, doves, towhees, juncos, and cardinals.

Selecting the best bird seed for doves involves providing them with a balanced and nutritious diet. Doves are granivorous birds, which means they primarily feed on seeds. When choosing bird seed for doves, a mix of seeds that includes millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds is often preferred. These seeds are readily available in most bird seed blends and are popular among doves. Millet, in particular, is a favorite among doves due to its small size and high energy content.

Another essential component of a dove’s diet is grit. Grit consists of small, indigestible particles like small stones or fine gravel that doves ingest to help grind their food in their gizzards. Providing access to grit is important for their digestive health.

It’s also advisable to offer a separate dish of crushed oyster shells or a mineral supplement to ensure doves receive the necessary calcium for strong eggshells, especially if you have breeding doves. Fresh water is essential for doves, so always ensure they have access to clean water for drinking and bathing.

The best bird seed for doves typically includes a mix of seeds like millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. Additionally, providing grit and a source of calcium like crushed oyster shells will help keep your doves healthy and thriving. Always ensure a supply of fresh water to meet their hydration needs and offer them a balanced and complete diet for their well-being.

What can you feed a dove?

Doves enjoy a range of foods, including pellets, seeds, vegetables, fruit and the occasional treat.

Doves should be offered 15-25% pelleted-based diet and 50-60% bird seed. 

Feed your dove dark, leafy greens and vegetables every other day.

Once a week, feed your dove fruit such as berries, melon and kiwi.

Feeding a dove can be a rewarding experience, and providing them with a balanced diet is essential for their health. Doves are primarily granivorous birds, meaning their main food source is seeds. A suitable diet for doves includes a variety of seeds like millet, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn. These seeds are rich in energy and are readily available in many commercial birdseed blends, making them convenient choices for dove feeding. Millet, in particular, is a favorite among doves due to its small size and easy digestibility.

In addition to seeds, doves benefit from the provision of grit. Grit consists of small, indigestible particles like fine gravel or small stones that doves ingest to help grind their food in their gizzard, aiding in digestion. Offering a separate dish of grit is important for their overall digestive health.

It’s also essential to ensure that doves have access to clean, fresh water at all times for drinking and bathing. Doves are known for bathing frequently to maintain their plumage, so providing a shallow dish of water for this purpose can contribute to their overall well-being. In summary, a well-balanced diet for doves consists of seeds like millet and sunflower seeds, along with access to grit for digestion and a consistent supply of fresh water for hydration and bathing.

What is the best food to attract doves?

Providing a range of grains and seeds is a sure way to attract doves, and they are partial to sunflower seeds, millet, milo, cracked corn, and wheat. Because these are larger birds, they prefer feeding on the ground or using large, stable tray or platform feeders that have adequate room to perch.

Attracting doves to your backyard or garden can be achieved by offering the right foods that appeal to them. Doves are primarily seed-eating birds, so providing a mix of seeds is an effective strategy. The best food to attract doves typically includes white proso millet, cracked corn, and black oil sunflower seeds. White proso millet is a particular favorite of doves due to its small size and high energy content. Cracked corn and black oil sunflower seeds are also well-liked by doves and can be readily found in many commercial birdseed blends.

Another way to attract doves is by scattering the seeds on the ground or using low, platform-style bird feeders. Doves prefer feeding on the ground or from open feeding areas, so making the seeds easily accessible in this manner can be especially effective. Additionally, providing a consistent source of fresh water, either in the form of a bird bath or a shallow dish, will further enhance your backyard’s attractiveness to doves, as they require water for drinking and bathing.

To attract doves to your yard or garden, offer a mix of seeds like white proso millet, cracked corn, and black oil sunflower seeds. Scatter these seeds on the ground or use low, open feeders, and provide a reliable source of clean water for drinking and bathing. With these provisions, you can create an inviting environment that doves are likely to visit regularly.

Do doves like almonds?

You also can grind peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, or walnuts with the bread and/or a small amount of nearly any fruit or vegetable that you eat yourself. (Don’t use avocados.) I often give my doves grated cooked sweet potato, regular potato, or canned or cooked fresh beet.

Doves are not typically attracted to or known to consume almonds in their natural diet. While almonds are a nutritious and tasty nut for humans, they are not a common choice for doves and may not be readily accepted by these birds. Doves are primarily granivorous, meaning their main diet consists of seeds, grains, and some fruits. Their beaks are adapted for cracking open and consuming seeds, and they are more inclined to eat a variety of seeds like millet, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.

If you wish to offer supplemental food to doves in your backyard or garden, it’s advisable to stick to their preferred diet of seeds. Providing a mix of seeds in a bird feeder or scattering them on the ground is a more effective way to attract and feed doves. Doves are more likely to visit your feeding area when offered foods that align with their natural dietary preferences.

Doves do not have a particular inclination for almonds, as their primary diet consists of seeds and grains. To attract doves and ensure they get the nutrition they need, focus on offering a variety of seeds and grains that are more in line with their natural food choices.

What Seeds Do Doves Eat

How do doves find and eat seeds?

Doves are known for their gentle, peaceful nature and are often seen foraging for seeds as a primary part of their diet. These birds rely on a combination of visual and tactile cues to find and consume seeds. Doves primarily locate seeds through their keen eyesight. Their eyes are adapted to detect motion and colors, making it easy for them to spot seeds on the ground or in low vegetation. Doves are particularly attracted to open areas where seeds are readily visible.

Once a dove has spotted a seed, it approaches and uses its beak to pick it up. Doves have small, slender beaks that are well-suited for grasping and cracking open seeds. They will often forage in pairs or small groups, which can provide them with added safety and increase their chances of finding seeds. In addition to visual cues, doves also rely on their sense of touch to locate seeds. They use their beaks to probe the ground and manipulate small pebbles or debris to uncover hidden seeds.

Doves are opportunistic feeders and can be found searching for seeds in a variety of environments, from open fields and gardens to urban areas and woodlands. Their diet primarily consists of a variety of seeds, including grains, grass seeds, and wildflower seeds. When a dove finds a seed, it will often swallow it whole, as their digestive system is adapted to break down the tough outer shells of seeds. Doves employ a combination of visual acuity, tactile exploration, and teamwork to efficiently find and consume seeds as a crucial part of their diet.

Do different dove species have seed preferences?

Yes, different dove species do have varying seed preferences based on their natural habitat, geographic location, and individual adaptations. While doves, in general, are known for their seed-based diets, these preferences can differ significantly between species.

For instance, the Mourning Dove, a common species in North America, prefers to feed on seeds from agricultural crops like corn, wheat, and barley. In contrast, the Inca Dove, native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, often forages for smaller seeds from grasses, wildflowers, and desert plants.

The African Ring-necked Dove is known to consume a variety of seeds, with a preference for grains like millet and sorghum. Some dove species have adapted to urban environments, such as the Eurasian Collared Dove, which often feeds on seeds from backyard bird feeders, including sunflower seeds and grains.

In general, the specific seed preferences of dove species depend on their local environment, what is readily available, and the size and structure of their beaks. Their adaptability and ability to adjust their diets to the available food sources in their respective regions contribute to the success of various dove species across the world.

Do doves eat only seeds, or do they consume other foods as well?

Doves are primarily seed-eating birds, and seeds make up a substantial portion of their diet. They have specialized beaks that allow them to efficiently crack open the hard shells of seeds. Many species of doves, such as the Mourning Dove and the Rock Dove (common pigeon), primarily rely on seeds as their main food source. They often forage for seeds from grasses, wildflowers, agricultural crops, and even from bird feeders in urban areas.

Doves are not strict herbivores, and their diet is not limited to seeds alone. They are known to consume a variety of other foods as well. Doves occasionally eat small insects, larvae, and invertebrates, particularly during the breeding season when they need additional protein to rear their young. They may also feed on berries, fruits, and even the occasional small snail. This adaptability in their diet allows doves to thrive in diverse environments, from open fields and forests to urban areas.

Water is another essential component of a dove’s diet. Doves do not drink water through their beaks but instead dip their beaks into water sources like puddles, birdbaths, or streams to take in water. This combination of seeds, occasional protein sources, and water consumption helps doves maintain their nutritional requirements and adapt to different ecological niches. Overall, doves display flexibility in their diet, emphasizing seeds but incorporating other food sources as needed.

How do doves aid in seed dispersal in their environments?

Doves play a crucial role in seed dispersal within their environments through a process known as endozoochory. This process involves doves consuming seeds and then dispersing them through their droppings in different locations. Here’s how doves aid in seed dispersal:

Ingestion: Doves primarily feed on seeds, which they swallow whole. The seeds they consume can come from various plants, including wildflowers, trees, and grasses. While some seeds are small enough to pass through their digestive system intact, others may undergo partial digestion.

Transportation: After ingestion, the seeds travel through the dove’s digestive system. During this journey, the seeds can be subject to a combination of mechanical abrasion, chemical changes, and exposure to digestive enzymes. These processes can break down the seed coat, facilitating germination upon deposition.

Deposition: Once the dove has completed digestion, it excretes the seeds in its droppings. These droppings can be deposited in various locations as the doves move about their habitat. The seeds in the droppings are often surrounded by nutrient-rich fecal matter, providing a natural fertilizer for the germinating plants.

Seed Germination: The seeds that have passed through the dove’s digestive system and are deposited in different areas have an enhanced chance of germination. The digestive processes and the addition of nutrients from the droppings can stimulate seedling growth, contributing to the spread and diversity of plant species in the environment.

In this way, doves contribute to the dispersal and regeneration of plants in their ecosystems. Their role as seed dispersers helps maintain biodiversity, as they assist in the colonization of new areas by various plant species, ensuring the continued health and vitality of their habitats.


The dietary preferences of doves, centered around seeds, provide us with a profound understanding of the intricate relationship between these birds and the natural world. The gentle coos of doves often serve as a reminder of the simplicity and beauty that exists in the avian realm. At the heart of this peaceful existence is their reliance on seeds, which not only sustains their physical well-being but also fosters a deeper connection between humans and the environment.

Seeds, with their abundant nutritional offerings, are more than just a source of sustenance for doves; they are a symbol of the intricate web of life that weaves together the flora and fauna of our world. By consuming seeds, doves play an essential role in the ecosystem by aiding in seed dispersal. As they forage and consume seeds, they inadvertently aid in the propagation of plant life. This mutualistic relationship, where doves benefit from the nutrition of seeds, and plants benefit from seed dispersal, underscores the delicate balance and interconnectedness of nature.

What Seeds Do Doves Eat

The role of seeds in the lives of doves highlights the significance of bird enthusiasts and conservationists in creating welcoming environments for these birds. Providing a steady supply of seeds in bird feeders not only attracts doves but also fosters an opportunity for humans to engage with the natural world. Observing doves as they peck away at their favorite seeds can be a source of serenity and contemplation, reminding us of the beauty that resides in our ecosystems.

The story of what seeds do doves eat is not just a tale of avian dietary preferences; it is a narrative that celebrates the harmonious coexistence of doves with the plant kingdom and humanity. By understanding and embracing the importance of seeds in their lives, we become stewards of this natural alliance, nurturing a sense of wonder and responsibility for the well-being of these cherished birds. In doing so, we honor the legacy of doves as symbols of peace and harmony, not only in our hearts but also in the flourishing ecosystems they call home.