Ask Lafeber


March 13, 2019

Why is my mourning dove is laying in her food dish?

My bird is 11 years old (probably more, I got her when I was 5 years old). She’s an Albino Mourning dove. I think this may be because she’s trying to mate, but I don’t completely know. She had a mate before; but they had eggs, that only one hatched. So she went ballistic, killed her mate and tried to kill her baby. So I don’t feel safe getting her another mate; for the safety of that mate.


Hi Mariah,

Your bird is actually a ring-necked dove. They are native to Africa and were imported for the pet trade. They come in a variety of color mutations and are commonly bred in captivity. There are also large feral populations in the US that came from escaped pets or dove releases. If she is white with pink eyes she is an albino, if she is white with dark eyes, she is a white mutation. Ring-necked doves are normally a light brown color. A Morning Dove is a wild species of dove native to the Americas and is not legal to keep in captivity. An albino is possible but would be rare.

As you found out, they will readily breed in captivity. But they need to be in a large flight when breeding and they need to be left alone. It is hard to say why she became aggressive to her mate and killed him – possibly too small of an enclosure or having people around may have caused her to feel threatened. I agree not to get her another mate. The white mutations and especially the albinos can have genetic issues so that may have somehow contributed. She probably is sitting in her dish because she wants to lay eggs again. I would get her a few small food cups that she can’t fit in and see if that solves it. The other cause could be a health issue but if she is eating well and acting well, then it is probably breeding behavior.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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