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Submitted By

Ellen Hartley

Matawan, NJ, United States


I saw this dove while viewing my yard on my project feeder watch day. The dove on top in the photo is the one missing long gray-brown tail feathers and the one on the bottom is for comparison.



Mourning Dove Without Tail Feathers

18 replies on “Mourning Dove Without Tail Feathers”

Penny says:

Great picture to illustrate your observation. I’m seeing the same thing this rainy morning. At least one, maybe two, of my usual mourning dove flock have lost their long tail feathers. Also, some of the doves seem really bedraggled in the rain, while the rest of my feeder birds look fine. I hope the doves aren’t sick.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Penny, Usually when tail feathers are missing it means that the bird had a brush with a predator and escaped, or it’s molting. The tail feathers should re-grow within the next couple of weeks. Sometimes they may grow in all-white, other times they will grow in normally.

William Douglass says:

I have 2 male ground doves, i had to sepperate them because my brown one was pecking at my white one almost blinding it. Got another cage and went to put the brown one in that cage when it tried to fly, it got away in the house but as it did its tail feathers come off. It still was flying but straight. I recieved it and put it in the cage seems to be doing fine. Will the tail feathers grow back its a young dove.should i be worried? It looks like a quail right now.still kooing like crazy. The white one dont koo right now. Just the brown one.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi William, Generally bird feathers that have been pulled out do grow back, though they may grow in white until the next time the bird molts. Are these wild doves or those you bought as pets? If these are pet birds, contact your vet for the best advice regarding the health of your birds. If they are wild, please contact your local certified wildlife rehabilitator, as it is against federal law to possess wild birds.

What worries me is a lot of these wildlife centers if you bring them birds ,squirrels, rabbits, hamsters, mice,rats your condeming to death, if their not releasable they will feed them to the Raptors and snakes an other animals that can be released, so make sure your ready to let them die this way ,these places are not pet adoption centers or some don’t have the staff to use rehabbing your animals,

Cindy B says:

I just found a young morning dove on the ground missing it’s tail feathers- it looks like he was attacked – I have him in a cage with some bird food and water – what should I b feeding him besides bird food.
And I saw that u said it will take a few weeks for his tail to grow back –

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Cindy, it is against federal law to posses a wild bird in this way. If the dove is injured, it is imperative that you contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife veterinarian, who have the necessary permits to handle and treat the bird. Otherwise, the dove should be released if it’s simply missing tail feathers.

Joan M says:

Hi, my sister saw 2 doves get attacked by Coopers hawk. When she rushed out it flew away. One dove is dead and the other lost all but 2 tail feathers, He bottom is bare. Her wing is drooping a bit and some wing feathers seem gone. on her belly she has lost a small circle of flesh exposing 2 yellow round (unpuncture) things(the crop for air sacs???) ( maybe corn kernel from food she laid in? . The had put a box outside on its side with a blanket for her and she liked it and stayed in there at ate food. they left for a couple days and nights, then they called me surprised it was still alive. I am training for my IWRC diploma but I still have one lab left. She is in a warm carrier now in a quiet room with a towel overtop and she is eating and I think drinking. I cleaned food stuck on her wound as they had given her too much and she had laid in it. I am trying to reach local wildlife place. I am wearing gloves but do not have any hydrogel. No sign of dried blood. What should I do?

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Joan, it’s imperative that you contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator, who will have the necessary federal permits to treat wild animals. Please contact your state wildlife department to find one that is federally certified in your state.

joan says:

I will bring bird to a rehab in am

Aubrey says:

i rescued a mourning dove when it was a baby and now its big, i wanted to free it, will the bird be ok? even it is not used to be outside?

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Aubrey, It’s imperative that you contact a local certified wildlife rehabilitator, who has the necessary permits to possess a wild, native bird.

Andrew Timms says:

My nxt doors cat had a dove this morning it was in quite a mess it’s tail feathers were missing and abrasion o it’s back little bit of blood on its eye. I’ve put it in a run 2days ago it’s picked up Brill eating running eye healed up how long before it’s tail feathers grow back before I can release it back into wild. Rspca and vets didn’t want to know bird flu

Andrew Timms says:

Also eating well seed meal worms greens fresh water every day even gave it earth worms just wanna see it fly off again at moment so vulnerable

Pat Pinckard says:

How long does it take grow back tail feathers on s collared dove feather bone is still there. Thank you

Danielle says:

Contacting a local wildlife rehabilitator is not that easy!!

If you can’t find one, is it better to leave the wounded animal outside and let it meet its fate?

Heidi Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Danielle, thanks for reaching out! Even if you might not have rehabilitators in your immediate area who can care for the bird, it may be worth at least being able to talk to someone on the phone so that they can pass on their advice. If you can’t get into contact with anyone at all, it’s best not to handle or care for birds on your own and to let things continue as they would in the wild, as it is illegal to handle wildlife unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

Debra Love-Goff says:

I have a mourning dove at my feeder that has a foot caught in its belly feathers. I see it yanking UT to loosen it but it’s been a month. I worry about winter. It eats fine and flies fine. It seems alone though too. No mate.

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