Songbird Protection Coalition

Chronology of Reproductive Age

Dove shooting proponents would like to convince the general public that "the life expectancy of a mourning doves is approximately one year." However, the breeding population and most successful nests occur in doves over 1.5 years of age. If doves really only lived one year, there would not be millions of doves sitting nests, raising squabs, or fledging all of those "one year old" doves.

"Armbruster (1983) investigated the influence of age on the chronology of pair formation and nest initiation, and the success of first and subsequent nesting attempts in captive doves. Nesting success (defined as at least one young fledged) of first-year females (less than two years of age) was significantly lower (15.6 percent) than that of older females (83.3 percent). The poor nesting success exhibited by first-year females was attributed to their failure to incubate the clutches they laid." They were too young.

As in other species of birds (and mammals), female doves select or choose stronger mature males in their prime, verses young immature first-year males as mates.

Source: Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, p104. Armbruster 1983, Analysis of behavior in various components of breeding mourning dove populations. PH.D. dissertation, Univ. Missouri, Columbia.