Frank P. Howe

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science


Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) use of and movements around man-made ponds, as well as dove nesting ecology, were studied from 1983 through 1985 on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL). Relative dove use was higher (P < 0.01) on some ponds than others, and multiple regression revealed a positive association (R 2 = 0.49) between relative use and the geographic isolation of ponds. Two peaks in diurnal pond use were exhibited by doves on the INEL: the mourning peak began around 0800 and lasted until approximately 1300, and the evening peak began at about 2030 and ended by 2150. Seasonal pond use fluctuated slightly through the summer then dropped rapidly in early September. Average and average maximum movements indicated that the 41 mourning doves trapped and fitted with radio-transmitters at the Test Reactor Area (TRA) and the Naval Research Facility (NRF) did not move off of the INEL on a regular basis. The average distance from mourning dove locations to TRA and NRF was <2.0 km, and the average maximum dove location was <3.5 km from either facility. Average (<2.0 km) and average maximum (<3.5 km) distances were also measured from dove locations to watering sites. Doves captured at both TRA and NRF moved, on average, 1.5 km from their nests; the average maximum distance from a dove's location to its nest was 2.8 and 5.4 km for doves caught at TRA and NRF. The average maximum distance between any 2 locations (for the same individual) at both TRA and NRF was <4.0 km. Mourning doves on the INEL are primarily ground nesters. Nesting success averaged 68% per year, with 1.8 fledglings produced per successful nest. Nesting densities averaged 0.02 nests/ha during the study. Three peaks in hatching occurred on the INEL: 1 during the fourth week of June, another during the third week of July, and a third during the first and second weeks of August. Annual production estimates for the INEL ranged from 11,300 to 17,000 doves, based on a model using 2 and 3 nesting attempts per summer. No differences (P > 0.05) were indicated in the percent coverage of shrubs, grasses, forbs, and bare ground, as measured with the line-intercept method, in the 5-m area surrounding dove nests and paired random sites. However, a difference in the percentage of grass cover and bare ground, as measured with a point-frame, was indicated in the 1-m2 (microhabitat) centered on the nest or random site; nest sites contained more grass (P = 0.02) and less bare ground (P = 0.02) than random sites. No difference was found between nest and random site microhabitats in the percentage of shrub or forb cover. Also, no difference was indicated by chi-square analysis in vertical vegetation obstruction, as measured from 15 m, between nest and random sites. Twenty-three of the 28 ground nests on the INEL were located under big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata).

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mourning dove
Mourning dove – Ecology
Mourning dove – Habitat


Includes bibliographical references (pages 60-65)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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