Though most birds are somewhat pleasing to the eye, it doesn’t mean that all of them are. When we build a bird feeder, it is meant to attract the bright, beautiful birds that we know and love to our backyard space for a more enjoyable viewing experience.
But there is a chance that your bird feeder could wind up attracting the types of birds that you don’t want to see. One of those is the mourning dove. The mourning dove is called that because it can represent death or the feeling of grief over losing a loved one.
Not only that, mourning doves – and doves in general – can be detrimental for keeping the birds that you want to see around. Doves tend to hog an entire bird feeding area if left unchecked, leaving you with nothing else to look at. The doves hang out at the edge of the feeder or bird bath all year long, particularly in the evening.
Keep in mind that it is unlawful throughout North America to harm bird life, so killing them is never an option unless you want to have a serious talk with the authorities.
Keep Mourning Doves Away
If you have a platform feeder, then you might have a bit of a challenge on your hands. There are a couple of things that can be done, however, to keep the mourning doves away so that you can enjoy smaller, less invasive birds.
The first is to put a roof over the top of your platform feeder if you have one. The roof should be somewhere between 8 and 10 inches in height while extending 4 or 5 inches wider on each of the four sides of the feeding floor.
Cardinals, Bluejays, and other large birds will still be able to fly in, so don’t worry about that. This method is great at keeping away the mourning doves because they aren’t agile enough to be able to swoop under the roof and properly hop onto the feeding floor.
If anything, they will crash and fall, discouraging them from returning to the area.
You can also get a piece of wire fencing with a couple of 4-inch openings to allow other birds entry. Attach it over your platform feeder so that it arches up 10 to 12 inches in height. Use a staple gun to secure all sides of the fencing down so that it won’t be blown away by a strong wind.
When you’ve finished attaching the wire, cut away the remaining fencing so as to open both ends of the platform feeder up for access purposes. Attach the end of your fencing pieces to the arched pieces; zip ties should work fine for this purpose.
You can even leave it to extend out to the sides or simply trim them down using a pair of wire cutters.
This works well because, again, the mourning doves aren’t agile enough to land and duck inside the wire cage as some other birds will be. This should be enough to deter them from visiting the area anymore when they realize that their food source is inaccessible.
Stop Attracting Them
This is a good rule of thumb for anything that you don’t want in your yard anymore. There is something that attracts them to your yard in the first place, so remove that source of attraction. It could be shelter but it is more likely a reliable source of food.
Mourning doves will typically feed on the ground. They prefer cracked corn, black sunflower seeds, and red and white millet. If you have bird feeders, don’t use these types of food.
Even if they can’t get into the bird feeder, the spillover that hits the ground could be enough to keep attracting them to the area.
If you are looking to protect specific areas, not just the bird feeder, keep the feeder far away from the garden and house to protect those areas from the presence of the mourning doves.
Finally, keep your yard weed-free. This is a given for many homeowners since weeds are unattractive and can be invasive to other plants and flowers in the area. But mourning doves prefer weed seeds as it is a mainstay in their diets.
If you keep your yard free and clear of weeds, using gravel or mulch intermittently, you can discourage the mourning doves from visiting the area.
Cut Off Their Food Supply
Again, most creatures are looking for shelter, food, or both. If you do keep bird feeders in your yard, this is likely a source of food for the mourning doves and the primary reason that they continue to frequent your yard.
Make certain to clean up any seeds that fall to the ground below or keep a mesh-covered tray underneath the bird feeder to catch any of the seeds that may fall outward. It may also be a good idea to leave your bird feeders empty for a week to discourage the mourning doves from returning to the area.
Best of all, this is a method that won’t do any harm to the other birds that may frequent the bird feeder.
You can even try to use alternate feeding methods if you want to attract other kinds of birds to your feeder. You may try to spread a peanut butter-based bird food on some bark to bring in woodpeckers or birds that tend to cling to the tree while they eat.
Even better, these types of food don’t attract mourning doves.
Also consider making the switch to bird feeders that have wire meshing on them. We covered how to make those above, but you can save the time and effort by purchasing one that is already made.
This will allow smaller more agile birds entrance while dissuading the larger, less agile mourning pigeons from entering.
Implement Scare Tactics
If you don’t want to resort to dietary changes or transforming your bird feeders, there is always the method of scaring the mourning doves away.
Keep in mind that some birds can become used to these scare tactics, so changing up your methods once in a while may be the key to keeping them away for good.
Mourning doves have also been known to disturb sleep methods or make a mess of patio areas, so it might be worth trying these scare methods even if they only work for a short while. You can try to implement something bright and reflective in the area.
Go with pinwheels or bird balloons that are specifically created to make noise that repels birds. You can also use reflective tape, also known as bird-repelling tape, to keep them away.
Using a fake predator is never a bad idea, though the birds may eventually figure out that they aren’t the real thing. Posting fake owls around the yard and moving their positions from time to time can be a great way to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeders regularly.
Change up the Habitat
Changing up the bird’s habitat can be an effective way of getting rid of mourning doves as well. Try using mesh, netting, or harmless bird spikes to prevent the doves from potentially perching around the areas in quest as well as their nesting sites.
You would want to get your barriers in place prior to the start of the spring nesting season, especially since it is illegal to disturb the nests of just about any nesting bird, mourning doves included (unless you have a permit).
Without the proper perching space, it should be enough to deter the mourning doves from congregating in the area. This can save your bird feeder from being taken over and can even help save on the amount of bird droppings in the area.
Aggressively pruning any trees or overhanging shrubbery in your yard is a great place to start. This should discourage the doves from nesting in the area. Just keep in mind that a lack of coverage can dissuade certain types of other birds from visiting the area, too.
Know the Impacts
While the main priority is keeping mourning doves away from your feeders, it is important to keep in mind that these tactics can result in other birds vacating the area. Before you implement any of these tactics to try to get rid of mourning doves, know what other types of birds they may impact.
After all, the whole purpose of the bird feeder is to attract birds to your yard. If your methods for getting rid of the mourning doves are keeping those birds away too, then it defeats the purpose of having a bird feeder altogether.
Be vigilant, be somewhat aggressive, and make sure to handle any potential problems prior to the spring nesting season.
By taking all of these steps, you should be able to at least minimize the dove problem in your yard and make it a safe space for the more beautiful and vibrant birds that you enjoy.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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