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The Resumption of Perch Cooing

3-18-19 mourning dove IMG_2091Many of New England’s Mourning Doves migrate down the Atlantic coast to spend the winter in more southerly climes and thus their persistent coo-ing is lacking during the winter months. However, even with feet of snow still on the ground in places, the relative silence has recently been broken by the return of these mournful-sounding birds.

The Mourning Dove’s primary song is referred to as a “perch coo.” Most of us are familiar with this song — a two-syllable coo followed by two or three louder coos. (“Coo-oo, OO, OO, OO”) Unmated males sing this song repeatedly during the breeding season, often from a conspicuous perch. (Mated males also sing, but far less frequently.) The song’s principal function appears to be the attraction of a mate.

You are most apt to hear Mourning Doves perch cooing half an hour before sunrise until roughly an hour and a half after sunrise, when it tapers off. Singing does pick up in the afternoon, but doesn’t begin to reach the fervor of the morning. Perch cooing reaches its peak between mid-May and mid-June.

Thank you to all who wrote in regarding Naturally Curious’s 9th Anniversary. Your kind words, wishes and donations were gratefully received.

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12 responses

  1. jeri

    i heard the mourning dove this morning for the first time in months (montague, ma) and then came in to see your posting. when i heard the dove, my whole body sighed. it meant a return to spring for me and i love its song/perch cooing.

    April 5, 2019 at 8:20 am

  2. Susie Peters

    Dear Mary, I haven’t gotten around to writing you on the occasion of your 9th anniversary yet, but I’m grateful to you every morning when I read your blog, and think of you at different times during the day, when something in the natural world wakes me up to the beauty and wonder that is always around us. I will send you a contribution soon, but for now am just sending love and gratitude… Susie

    On Fri, Apr 5, 2019 at 7:47 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Many of New England’s Mourning Doves migrate down > the Atlantic coast to spend the winter in more southerly climes and thus > their persistent coo-ing is lacking during the winter months. However, even > with feet of snow still on the ground in places, the re” >

    April 5, 2019 at 8:36 am

  3. Barry Avery

    I don’t think mine ever left my northern CT home. They persisted through the snow and ice and were regulars under the feeder.

    April 5, 2019 at 8:37 am

  4. Reuben

    We love these beautiful birds and their cooing! We often have anywhere from 2-3 to as many as a dozen in our backyard most of the winter. If I rake/shovel the snow off the large 3 sided leaf storage bin over the winter, they like to sit in the leaves, soaking up the sun. They love our multiple bird feeders by the Androscoggin River, by our garden.

    April 5, 2019 at 9:51 am

  5. William Loomis

    Hi Mary,

    I get your posts which I enjoy. Recently I’ve had a very bold fox in my yard. It shows no fear when I see it and even groomed itself very close to me. I fear for my cat, who we let out infrequently and also I believe foxes are susceptible to rabies. Is there any actions you might recommend. Thankyou

    Tony Loomis Ridgefield CT

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    April 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    • Hi Tony,

      The behavior you describe isn’t all that unusual, in my experience. Still, it might be wise for you to contact CT Fish & Game just to be on the safe side, as they might know if there have been any incidents of rabies in your area. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, 36 Buff Cap Rd, Suite 5, Tolland, CT 06084-2604, Phone: (860) 871-8348)

      I have known people who have had foxes stretch out on their porches in the sun, play with their dog and follow them on walks in the woods, just so you know! Also, foxes may chase cats, but they rarely eat them. Foxes and most cats are roughly the same size, and a cat’s teeth and claws make them formidable prey for a fox.

      Hope this helps some! Mary

      Mary Holland

      Hartland, VT


      April 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

  6. kathryn

    Because they are so common, many people don’t really look at them and that’s too bad. They are beautiful birds.

    April 5, 2019 at 2:30 pm

  7. Alice Pratt

    When awake, but before I arise…so much to keep me occupied on my iPad….I enjoy the cooing & Cardinals make their presence known with all their songs…I’ve been hearing another bird…no clue what it is….yet.

    April 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm

  8. Effie Elfer

    Because I am only able to read your blog posts in my email from my cell phone and because the images included are sometimes slow to load. I first read your title “perch cooing” and thought holy smokes I never knew perch did that! My second thought was maybe it was your April fools day post but realized the date was wrong, then finally the light bulb went off! Doves!
    But perhaps perch coo, too!?

    April 6, 2019 at 9:17 pm

  9. Am I the only one who thought this post was going to reveal the obscure fact that perch (the fish) make a cooing sound? 😃

    April 7, 2019 at 9:58 am

    • How funny! That never even crossed my mind!!!

      April 7, 2019 at 12:38 pm

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