Natural Sightings #660 - Mourning Dove.jpg

A Mourning Dove sits on a rock in the Tehachapi Valley.

Al Crisalli Jr. took this photo of a Mourning Dove sitting on a rock in the Tehachapi Valley. These native birds can be found throughout the Tehachapi area.

Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) have graceful bodies and slender tails. They have been joined in recent years in the Tehachapi Mountains by the larger, paler Eurasian Collared Doves, which have a black crescent marking on the back of their necks.

Like other doves and pigeons, male Mourning Doves are excellent and attentive fathers, and they help both incubate the eggs as well as feed the two chicks once they hatch.

Mourning Doves get their common name from the soft, melancholy cooing that they often make. There is a three part "nest call" that males sometimes make when building a nest, and it has been described as a "coo-OO-oo" sound, rising on the middle syllable.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for Mourning Dove also references the sound these subtly beautiful birds make: it is hoyov, pronounced hoy-YOVE-uh, and it is an approximation of the sound the doves often make. Hoyov was a name sometimes given to Nuwä girls and women. The late Betty Girado Hernandez was known as Saygüd Hoyov, meaning "White Dove."

Though Mourning Doves can be often be found in orchards or perched in fruit trees, you don't have to worry about them pecking holes in fruit — 99 percent of their diet consists of seeds, and they nearly always feed on the ground, picking up scattered seeds.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.