Songbird Protection Coalition

Life Span - Free Living Doves

Records and research show that free-living doves live between 7 and 11 years of age.  However, banding research confirms a longevity of much longer than that.  The mourning dove is actually one of the 10 longest lived free-living species in the Bird Banding Lab Database, holding a record of 31 years 4 months.

On the other hand, by contrast, the survival rate or lifespan of doves in shooting states produce much lower survival rate data.  Banding studies (Clapp et al 1983) reveal that "life spans of mourning doves banded in US [dove hunting states] average about 1.0 year for immatures and 1.5 years for adults."  The "suspected reason" for the lower annual survival rate of both immature and adult doves -- human hunting pressure.

Comparably, non-hunting states have significantly higher survival rates and report more stable populations than do hunting states (2).  "Eastern Management Unit (EMU) doves from hunting states clearly experience much higher hunting mortality than do doves from non-hunting states" and "survival rates for doves in the non-hunting states of the Central Management Unit (CMU) were significantly higher than for doves in the hunting states" (1).

Note: Although banding data is used here to show the life-span of mourning doves, it should be emphasized that among hunted species of North American migratory birds, doves are among the least suited to use the data for hunting management models, especially to estimate survival and recovery rates.

Click here to learn more about mourning dove mortality.
Click here to learn about the chronology of reproductive age.

Source, including but not limited to (1) Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove p1, 271, 277, 300, 301, 304, 318, 320, 339. (2) 2002 Mourning Dove Breeding Population Status Report, US Fish and Wildlife Service. US Geological Service, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.