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Birding/release of a wild mourning dove

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Question
I rescued a wild mourning dove that was not fully feathered. I live in southern Michigan in the country and it has been in my home since Oct 8th. It is eating well (parakeet seed) and now is able to fly well also. I have taken it outside and it is able to find food. We have feeders near the house and have a lot of doves here. I don't usually leave it unattended while it is outside because I'm not sure if it will fly if approached by predators. It has seen other birds but not the doves. Should I just leave it alone while out there? Also it is now Nov. 4th and we have been having some evenings in the low 30's and I have been bringing it in at night. The next few nights are suppose to be in the 40's and I'm wondering if it is okay to leave it out all night to get used to the cold and will it find a place to roost for the night? We do have a screen porch that is large enough for it to fly around in and I could put it in there if necessary. I would really like to release it before the snow fly's but not sure if it's already too late. I would very much appreciate any helpful info. Thank you so much! Luanne

Answer
The rule of thumb is always to release it as soon as you can. The longer it stays in captivity the less chance it has of making it in the wild. It may be cold and there may be predators and the bird might not make it - bird mortality is typically very high for young birds- but if you don't release it, you make it more dependent on you and less and less likely it will survive. So release it an hope for the best. Try one night on the porch and then release it. And thanks for your concern.  

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Roger Lederer

Expertise

Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.

Experience

Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of Ornithology.com . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

Education/Credentials
PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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