Mourning Dove

Photo: Mark Buckler
(Enlarge photo)

Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura

Classification: Game Species

Abundance: Common throughout state

Species Profile (PDF)


Mourning dove and chicks on a nest (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


Wildlife Science: Mourning Dove Banding (YouTube Video)

Additional Information

In the early mornings of late January and early February, mourning doves in North Carolina begin cooing and making their circling courtship flights. Mourning doves, often seen migrating in large flocks, begin to break up and form pairs. Named for their long tails and melancholy bird call, mourning doves have been classified as a game bird by the federal government and 39 states, including North Carolina.

The mourning dove has a thin, delicate-looking bill, a neat head, and a long, graduated tail bordered with large white spots. The colors of the female are duller than the gray-brown adult males. At close range, adult males can be distinguished by purple-pink iridescent feathers on the neck and light pink on the breast. The upper part of the throat is whitish. Legs and feet are dull red or purplish red. 

Learn more by reading the Mourning Dove species profile.

Includes mourning and white-winged dove


Extended Falconry Seasons 

Migratory Game Birds Regulations

Additional Info (including public hunting opportunities and various reports)

Other information

Baiting Laws When Hunting Agriculture Areas

Dove Hunting in North Carolina (summary of regulations and safety tips) (PDF)

2011-12 Survey of Dove Hunters in North Carolina (PDF- 1.02 MB)

Mourning Dove National Harvest Plan (PDF - 1.20MB)


Hunter Harvest Survey Estimates


2018-2022 Dove Hunting and Harvest Estimate Maps (PDF)

1949-2021 Dove Hunting Harvest and Hunter Trends (PDF)


Report Bird Bands

Please report all bands online at

Please be aware that starting July, 2017, the toll-free telephone number that had previously been available to report bird bands is being discontinued.  This discontinuation is collectively due to past problems with accurate data recording, high rates of dropped calls and budget cuts.  People calling this toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website or by mail.  We rely heavily on your cooperation in reporting banded birds to help in their management, and we would like to thank you for your continued support in this effort.