US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Seamans, M. E., R. D. Rau, and T. A. Sanders. 2012. Mourning dove population status, 2012. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Washington, D.C.


This report summarizes information collected annually in the United States on survival, recruitment, abundance and harvest of mourning doves. We report on trends in the number of doves heard per route from the Mourning Dove Call-count Survey (CCS), doves seen per route from the CCS, birds heard and seen per route from the all-bird Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and provide absolute abundance estimates based on band recovery and harvest data. Harvest and hunter participation are estimated from the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP). The CCS-heard data provided evidence that abundance of doves decreased in all three dove management units (Eastern [EMU], Central [CMU], and Western [WMU]) during the long term (1966–2012); within the EMU, however, there is evidence that abundance decreased in hunt states but increased in nonhunt states. In the recent 10 years there was no evidence for a change in mourning dove abundance in the EMU, but there was evidence of a decline in the CMU and WMU. Over the most recent two years there was no evidence for a change in abundance in any of the management units. Over the long term, trends based on CCS-heard and CCS-seen data were consistent in the CMU and WMU, but inconsistent in the EMU; CCS-seen data indicated that abundance increased in the EMU. BBS data provided evidence that the abundance of mourning doves over the long-term increased in the EMU and decreased in the CMU and WMU. Thus, over the long term, the three data sets provided consistent results for the CMU and WMU but not the EMU. Estimates of absolute abundance are available only since 2003 and indicate that there are about 308 million doves in the United States, and abundance during the recent 5 years appears stable in the EMU and WMU, but may be declining in the CMU. Based on a composite trend (weighted trend estimate using information from the CCS, BBS, and absolute abundance), the EMU and WMU populations were stationary over the previous 5 and 10 years whereas the population in the CMU declined. Current (2011) HIP estimates for mourning dove total harvest, active hunters, and total days afield in the U.S. were 16,580,900 ± 452,200 (estimate ± SE) birds, 955,700 hunters, and 3,005,700 ± 92,000 days afield. Harvest and hunter participation at the unit level were: EMU, 6,666,900 ± 256,000 birds, 378,600 hunters, and 1,095,200 ± 41,000 days afield; CMU, 7,657,700 ± 362,000 birds, 427,700 hunters, and 1,444,800 ± 81,000 days afield; and WMU, 2,256,300 ± 89,000 birds, 149,400 hunters, and 465,700 ± 17,000 days afield.