Mourning Dove in the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie
The mourning dove is common throughout the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regions, but populations are generally highest in the western counties where more open habitat exists.
As with all wildlife, dove habitat must provide adequate food, cover, and water. Since doves are capable of traveling long distances to fulfill all of their habitat needs, individual habitat components (food, cover, and water) do not have to be located in one centralized area to be of benefit. However, doves can often be attracted to areas where all habitat components are present in a localized area.
The primary diet of mourning doves is seeds produced from native and introduced plants. Plants common to the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regions that are important to mourning dove include: sunflower, croton (goat weed or dove weed), ragweed and partridge pea. Introduced plants important to dove, planted as part of agricultural operations, include: grain sorghum (milo), forage sorghum (hay-grazer), corn, wheat and Johnsongrass.
Simply disturbing the soil after the first freeze will encourage native annual plants that are important food source for doves. Disking, plowing and prescribed burning are all practices that can be used to promote important annual native seed producing plants. In addition to promoting seed producing plants, these practices also expose some bare ground making it easier for dove to forage.
Agricultural fields that grow grain sorghum, wheat, and corn are important food sources for doves. These fields can be manipulated by harvesting strips at different times, to spread out the availability of seed over a longer period. Also, leaving stubble until the following growing season will provide some cover that will make the fields more desirable to doves.
Food plots can also be planted to attract and provide food for doves. Planting desirable seed producing plants, such as sunflowers, milo and dove prozo millet in May will often produce productive dove fields. However, plots planted with native sunflower will germinate best when planted in fall. Food plots should be at least 25 acres in size and adequately fenced off from cattle. Shredding strips through food plots, beginning in mid August, will improve access to seed for doves and make it easier to locate harvested birds.
Unlike other game species, such as bobwhite quail, wild turkey or white-tailed deer, doves do not require much cover to meet their habitat needs. In fact, doves prefer fairly open habitat with only scattered trees for perching and nesting. Therefore, providing a savannah type of habitat with plenty of seed producing plants and scattered trees 10 to 30 feet tall will provide dove with all of the cover they require.
The Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regions contain numerous small stock ponds scattered throughout rural areas. Mourning doves are swift fliers, capable of covering long distances in a relatively short period of time and for this reason, water is generally not considered a limiting factor of dove habitat in these regions. However, existing stock ponds can be manipulated to make them more favorable for usage by doves. Doves will generally water twice daily and prefer watering sites that do not contain tall, concealing vegetation. Also, doves prefer several feet of fairly level bare soil up to the water edge for a landing area.
Providing a habitat with all of the daily requirements (food, cover and water) will attract more doves to your hunting area and also improve reproduction for this popular Texas upland game bird.
For assistance in developing a habitat management plan for your property, please contact your local Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist.
To locate the Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist in your area .
To learn more about the upland game species of the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie, their habitat and management, click on the appropriate link located on the sidebar.