Strategies for getting rid of mourning doves include cutting off their food supply and making the garden and areas near the house unappealing. Harmless scare tactics might help too. Doves are called the "farmer's friend" because they eat weed seeds, yet their calls may interfere with sleep, and areas below where they perch become covered in dove droppings.
Mourning doves generally feed on the ground, and plentiful food that's easy for them to get attracts them. Of the common bird foods, they prefer red and white millet, black sunflower seeds and cracked corn. If you have bird feeders, refrain from using these foods. Alternatively, put these foods far from your house and garden to draw mourning doves away from the areas you want to protect. Bare ground makes it simple for doves to find weed seeds, the mainstay of their diet. Keep your yard weed-free, and use mulch or gravel to discourage doves from foraging.
If you have bird feeders, clean up seeds on the ground beneath them daily or use mesh-covered trays under the bird feeders to catch scattered seeds. Leaving feeders empty for at least one week may discourage mourning doves without harming other birds. Employ alternative feeding methods for other kinds of birds if desired. For example, spread suet or peanut butter-based bird food on bark to attract woodpeckers and other birds that cling to trees while they feed; suet and peanut butter won't attract mourning doves. Switch to feeders with wire mesh to keep mourning doves out while allowing smaller birds to feed. Garden centers and wild bird product suppliers sell such feeders.
Use netting, mesh or harmless bird spikes to exclude mourning doves from potential perching and nesting sites. Ideally, get barriers in place before the spring nesting season as it's illegal to disturb the nests of most native birds, including mourning doves, without a permit, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program website. The lack of perches will deter the mourning doves and stop the droppings problem. Mourning doves usually nest in bushes and trees. So aggressive pruning in the areas where you want to discourage doves may deter them from nesting, although the lack of cover will discourage other birds too. Home improvement and hardware stores sell bird spikes and netting.
Birds can become used to scare tactics, yet such methods may be worth a try if mourning doves are disturbing your sleep or making a mess on your patio or another area. Position bird-repelling tape, pinwheels or "bird balloons" to startle the dove. Bird-repelling tape is also called reflective tape. Bobble-headed owls can be useful for keeping birds away, according to the National Audubon Society website. Post these scare birds to protect your deck, car, porch or patio from mourning doves. Garden centers and home improvement retailers sell these types of bird-deterrent devices.
- Wild Birds: Pest Birds and Unwanted Birds
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dove Shooting
- National Audubon Society: Mourning Dove
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Winter Bird Feeding
- National Audubon Society: Frequently Asked Questions -- Birds Causing a Problem
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program: List of Migratory Bird Species Protected by the MiGratory Bird Treaty Act as of December 2, 2013