Oro Valley, Arizona


Ah! The Dove. Let's talk about the dove (Be patient now, we'll get to the deterrant part of this lesson). In our area, four are more common: the Inca Dove, the Mourning Dove, the White Winged Dove and the Pigeon or Rock Dove (pictured, in order, below).

For many of us, the Inca Dove* is the lesser known, rarely seen dove. They are small (about 8"), have a 'scaled' pattern on their wings and tend to feed on the ground. The Mourning Dove* is so named for its mournful call. It can get up to 12" long, has a gray-brown color and eats mostly from the ground, but has been seen on tray feeders and some other bird feeders. The White Winged Dove* is a larger migrant (11", though they seem bigger than the Mourning Dove) that 'winters' in southern areas like Mexico. They have been seen in Tucson as early as March through as late as September; and there are reports of some staying around all year. The Rock Dove* or Pigeon (13") is a year-round resident seen in the city area, in parks and in backyards. They are ground feeders and will feed from bird feeders if possible.

Of the four, the Mourning, White Winged and Rock Doves are sometimes seen as annoyances on bird feeders and in backyards (although many people really enjoy these birds), mostly because they tend to hog the seed from the smaller song birds, gather in large groups under feeders and 'poop' all over. What to do?

  • Wild Birds Unlimited has a Quick Clean Tube feeder with a 'dove-resistant' cage (lifetime guarantee). The cage allows Cardinal-sized birds and smaller ones through it's 2" holes, but keeps out larger birds like the White Winged Dove (pictured below).

  • If you own a Finch Feeder with perches, try cutting the perches down to 3/8". The smaller finches (like Lesser Goldfinches) will still be able to cling to a smaller sized perch, but your larger birds can't.
  • Wild Birds Unlimited also has the 'dove-resistant' Dinner Bell (lifetime guarantee). It has an adjustable dome which can be lowered to keep out larger birds. The deep tray can accomodate many types of seed, suet and fruit.

  • For open Tray Feeders, we have found feeding in-shell peanuts a good deterrent to Doves. Doves don't seem too interested in breaking into the shell; they get discouraged and go elsewhere. We also have a larger, recylced tray feeder that can come with a wire mesh cage that attaches on to the tray. This cage will allow Cardinals, Thrashers, Cactus Wrens and smaller birds in while keeping out Doves, and, perhaps sadly, Quail.
  • Attaching a Seed Tray/Saucer to your current feeder can lessen the amount of seed which falls to the ground. More seed on the ground = more Dove. Our Seed Saucer has a thick plastic mesh over it so the dove cannot get to the seed which has fallen into it. 
  • Jim's Birdacious Bark Butter is another suprisingly 'dove-resistant' bird food. This mix of Rendered Beef Suet, Roasted Peanuts, Peanut Oil and Corn can be spread on the side of trees making it accessable to only 'clinging' birds like Wrens, Finches, Woodpeckers and Thrashers. Dove don't seem to have that clinging ability.

These are only a few suggestions and you may have varying degrees of success with each of them. Don't be discouraged! Our customers continually come up with new and inventive ways to deter Dove, and we invite you visit our store to share your ideas. 

 *(Source: Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region)


Here are some other sites which may help you: