Songbird Protection Coalition

Annual Cycle of Body Weight

The adult mourning dove's weight changes considerably throughout the year. "Body weights gradually decline from the winter peak to the yearly low in the fall." During the annual cycle, the lightest body weights for both males and females occur during the months of September and October--during hunting season. The heaviest weights occur during November and December (Jenkins 1955).

The following weight data should be used in accordance with realistic considerations. Weights of crop contents can add 8-10 percent to the total body weight of a mourning dove. Additionally, parent doves weigh 1.6-5.4 percent more than those with no crop gland development (Hanson and Kossack 1957b).

Adult male weights average about 4.6 ounces and range from 3.9 to 6.0 ounces during the year (Nelson and Martin 1953, Jenkins 1955)

Adult female weights average 4.3 ounces and range from 3.5 to 5.5 ounces during the year (Nelson and Martin 1953, Jenkins 1955)

Due to the fact that doves are at their lightest weight during open season, a properly shot dove yields a tiny tidbit of edible meat. Most recipes call only for dove breasts--the fastest and most popular method of dressing doves is referred to as "breasting-out."

Data Source: Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, p.139, p.471.

Note: There are two "versions" of the Zenaida macroura: carolinensis (east) and marginella (west). For this article, we used weight data of the "heavier" race, Z.m. carolinensis. The western race, Z.m. marginella, is a smaller and lighter than the eastern Z.m. carolinensis.