Abundance and Compensatory Replacement
Due to their ecology and biology, "mourning doves reproduce slowly" in comparison to other migratory birds with "only two young per clutch, which do not always survive" (1). Literature and studies reveal only 3.5 young are successfully fledged per year per breeding pair on a national average. While up to five or six nesting attempts may be made in the range of the deep south, Lincoln (1945) noted that only two broods were typical in the most northern parts of the breeding range. Caldwell (1948) noted that only 2.2 young are successfully fledged per year per breeding pair in Michigan, due to weather extremes. Research studies sited by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources indicate that nest success is approximately 53 percent in the Eastern Management Unit.
According to several US Fish and Wildlife Service mourning dove nesting studies, nesting attempts do not indicate the fledged success rate. Therefore, to claim several clutch "attempts" per year does not validify actual brood production or numbers - attempts do not suggest success. Dove shooting proponents often misrepresent this and other information to distort the facts and push their agenda to gain new privileges.
In order to maintain a stable population, doves must produce an adequate number of offspring to compensate for the natural and hunting mortality rates, otherwise downward trends result in the breeding population. The mourning dove has long been considered abundant due to historical "estimated" numbers, but despite their ubiquitousness, they are not indestructible or immune to factors that are multi-faceted.
With declines confirmed in long-term scientific data, it has been hypothesized that trends in non-hunting states are indices that hunters may be negatively impacting the population. While doves appear to be compensating for natural mortality, it is in question if they are really able to produce at an aggregate level necessary to compensate for daily bag limits of the shooters take. Controversial beliefs, that harvest does not impact populations of upland birds, are proving to be flawed and serious problems with conclusions and management plans have been acknowledged within regulatory agencies.
Shear dove numbers can no longer be used as shooting justification...especially in Michigan, who's northern population maintains stability of migrants and harbors a protected non-migrating resident population.
Source, including but not limited to: Grand Haven Wildlife Viewing Guide by Betty Mattson (1), US Fish and Wildlife Service (multiple studies), Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Central Flyway Council Recommendations 2000, Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove p 93-94, p 277, p 328, p 530, Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan p 230.
Songbird Protection Coalition