Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 47:26–28; 2015
Food habits of the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) have been extensively studied in the southern United States (McClure 1943, Korschgen 1958, Carpenter 1971) and consist primarily of vegetable matter throughout their range (Beckwith 1959). Diet studies in several states have indicated agricultural crops, specifically corn and wheat, were the most readily consumed plant seeds (Korshgen 1958, Carpenter 1971). Similarities observed in diets of doves were dependent on the agricultural crops available within the area. For example, in Missouri, some seasonal variability was documented suggesting doves forage based on food availability as much as by food preference (Korschgen 1958). However, in the agriculturally- dominated landscape of east central South Dakota (SD), the two most important food items for doves were green (Setaria viridis) and yellow foxtail (S. glauca; Van’t Hul and Jenks 1992).
Large-scale land use changes have occurred in eastern South Dakota in the past few decades and several factors have contributed to increased grassland to cropland conversion (Wright and Wimberly 2013). Conversion of grasslands to agricultural crops has increased as demand for biofuels and commodity prices increased (Secchi and Babcock 2007, Searchinger et al. 2008, Fargione et al. 2009, Wright and Wimberly 2013). In east central South Dakota, corn and soybean plantings have increased from 2,400,000 ha in 1991 to 4,400,000 ha in 2013 (United States Department of Agriculture 2014). These significant land-use changes that have occurred in the intervening 20 years may influence mourning dove feeding habits. We compared mourning dove diet composition in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, USA, to those published 20 years earlier from a study conducted approximately 60 km north (Van’t Hul and Jenks 1992).