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Birds--General/Orphaned Mourning Dove


Good Morning,
I found an orphaned mourning dove a week ago and much to my surprise...and the help of forums like this, he is thriving!!! Gauging by photos online I'd put him at approx. 3 weeks old. He is eating the parrot supplement from a syringe. He has no interest in drinking water from a cup or bowl even if I dip his beak into it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Also when do I introduce seed?

He is currently residing in a cat carrier so I can keep him warm, I use a hot water bottle and he snuggles up yet can hop away when he's warm enough. When can he graduate to a cage with a perch?

I take him outside to get him acclimated to a familiar surrounding. He flaps his wings (too cute!) but of course cannot fly yet...when should I expect him to be ready for flight?

It's mid September now, I understand he will likely miss his migration and will be with me until spring, I live in central Indiana.

Any advise would be most appreciated...thanks so much in advance!

First, are you SURE the baby was abandoned? Baby doves leave the nest before they can fly and the parents care for them. Even if you don't see the parents, they are likely around somewhere. Rarely are they orphaned. But now that is a moot point.

You can go to for some good general information.Food, like squab food from a feed store, is best fed moist and then it will not need drinking water.

Mourning Doves are resident throughout the year over most of the U.S., including your area, so migration is not an issue. The VERY best thing to do is to release the bird as soon as it can fly - very shortly, Do not keep it caged until spring. The longer it is caged the less chance it will have to survive in the wild. It is also illegal to keep a wild bird in captivity, but of course your intentions are for the good of the bird, so you are not likely to get in trouble. For the good of the bird, release it as soon as possible.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all questions about WILD birds - not caged, domestic or poultry. Can answer questions about identification, taxonomy, behavior, courtship, plumage, flight, or anything else. Wild birds only, please.


Taught ornithology (the study of birds) at the university level for 30 years. Have written five books on birds, published 30 scientific articles, write a blog on birds, have the website, lectured to hundreds of groups on birds,and have traveled to 90 countries studying birds.

A variety of ornithological and conservation organizations.

Real Simple Magazine, Enterprise-Record, and several ornithological and ecological journals.

PhD in Zoology with emphasis in ornithology.

Awards and Honors
Professional Achievement Award, Jack Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literach.

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