How To Keep Mourning Doves Away From Bird Feeder

Last Updated on June 6, 2023 by

If you’re a bird enthusiast, chances are that you’ve encountered mourning doves at your feeder. While these birds can be lovely to watch, they can also be a nuisance when it comes to sharing food with other species. However, there are steps you can take to keep them from taking over your feeder and leaving little for the other feathered friends in your yard.

One option is to simply change the type of seed or feed that you offer. Mourning doves tend to prefer larger seeds such as corn, millet, and sunflower seeds, so switching to smaller options like nyjer or thistle may discourage them from lingering too long at the feeder. Additionally, placing a physical barrier around the feeder (such as chicken wire) can make it more difficult for mourning doves to access the food while still allowing smaller birds easy access. By making simple changes like these, you’ll be able to create an environment where all types of birds can enjoy some tasty treats without any one species dominating the feeding area.

Understanding Mourning Doves’ Feeding Habits

The mourning dove, also known as the American mourning dove or rain dove, is a common bird found throughout North America. Its distinct cooing call makes it easily identifiable to many people. However, these birds can become a nuisance when they gather in large numbers around bird feeders.

To understand how to keep mourning doves away from your feeder, you must first consider their dietary preferences. These birds primarily eat seeds and grains such as millet, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn. Unfortunately for other birds at the feeder, these are often the same types of food that attract them.

Another factor to consider is nesting behavior. Mourning doves tend to nest on flat surfaces like tree branches or ledges rather than inside enclosed spaces like birdhouses. This means that if there are trees nearby with good visibility of your feeder, they may be more likely to visit frequently.

It’s important to note that while some bird enthusiasts enjoy seeing these peaceful creatures up close and personal at their feeders, others find them bothersome due to their large size and somewhat aggressive feeding habits. Additionally, overfeeding any type of bird can lead to health problems down the line.

Understanding all of this information about mourning doves’ feeding habits will help guide you towards finding ways to reduce their presence at your bird feeder without harming them. In order to achieve this goal effectively though, we must consider several other factors which I will discuss further later on in this article.

Changing The Type Of Seed Or Feed Offered

Different birdseed options may help to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeder. Mourning doves tend to prefer smaller seeds such as millet, while other birds such as finches and sparrows enjoy sunflower seeds or nyjer seed. By switching to a type of seed that is less appealing to the mourning dove, you can encourage other bird species to visit your feeder instead.

Additionally, offering suet cakes or mealworms can attract different types of birds altogether. Woodpeckers and nuthatches are known for their love of suet cakes, while bluebirds and robins enjoy mealworms. These options not only diversify the types of birds visiting your feeder, but they also provide high-energy food sources during colder months when insects may be scarce.

Another option is to mix in chili flakes with the birdseed. Birds lack taste receptors for capsaicin – the chemical compound responsible for spiciness – so mixing in some chili flakes won’t deter them but it will discourage squirrels and possibly even mourning doves who have been found to avoid spicy foods.

Attracting other bird species besides mourning doves not only adds diversity to your backyard wildlife experience, but it can also help balance out any potential overpopulation of one particular species at your feeder. Experimenting with different feed types might take some time before finding an option that works best for both attracting desired species and keeping undesired ones away.

Using Smaller Seeds To Discourage Mourning Doves

As a wildlife biologist, I understand the struggle of keeping mourning doves away from bird feeders. These birds have an insatiable appetite for larger seeds and will often monopolize the feeder, leaving smaller songbirds without access to food. One effective method to discourage them is by using smaller seed types.

Doves are known for their love of sunflower seeds, which are too large for most small songbirds but perfect for their beaks. Switching to smaller seed varieties such as millet or nyjer can make it difficult for doves to eat comfortably at your feeder. This causes them to seek out alternative food sources elsewhere, allowing other birds to enjoy the feeder in peace.

Another benefit of using smaller seed types is that it attracts different species of birds. Finches, sparrows, and chickadees prefer these types of seeds and will appreciate having a dedicated feeding area just for them. It’s important to note that while this method may not completely eliminate dove presence, it significantly reduces their numbers at the feeder.

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If you’re looking for additional methods to deter mourning doves from your bird feeder, there are several dove deterrents available on the market. Some popular options include motion-activated sprayers or noise-making devices that scare off doves when they get too close. However, these products can also startle other innocent backyard creatures like squirrels and chipmunks if not used correctly.

By incorporating smaller seed types into your bird feeding routine and possibly adding in some dove deterrents as well, you’ll create a more comfortable environment for all feathered visitors while discouraging unwanted guests at the same time. Remember that finding what works best for your specific situation may take some trial and error, so don’t give up!

Adding Physical Barriers To The Feeder

As mentioned in the previous section, using smaller seeds can discourage mourning doves from feeding at your bird feeder. However, if that strategy does not work for you, there are other options to consider.

Feeder modifications may be necessary to deter mourning doves. For example, adding a dome-shaped baffle above or below the feeder can prevent larger birds like doves from accessing it while still allowing smaller birds to enjoy their meals. Another option is to use feeders with adjustable ports that allow only small birds to access the seed. This will make it difficult for larger birds like mourning doves to get a foothold on the feeder and feed.

Repelling strategies also exist that may help keep mourning doves away from your feeder. One such method involves placing decoys of predators near the feeding area. Mourning doves are wary of predators and will avoid areas where they believe danger exists. Placing fake owls or hawks around your yard could help repel them naturally without harming any animals.

Another effective way to keep mourning doves away from your feeder is by planting native plants in your garden that provide natural food sources for them elsewhere. If these plants are located farther from your feeders than desired, then try offering alternative food sources nearby but out of sight of mournings dove so they don’t find their way back to the feeder.

By implementing some simple modifications and utilizing appropriate repelling strategies, you should be able to reduce or eliminate troublesome visits from mourning doves at your bird feeder without causing harm or distressing other birds who rely upon it as well.

Placing The Feeder In A Different Location

Feeder placement is a crucial factor in bird feeding. If mourning doves are becoming an issue, it may be time to consider moving the feeder to an alternate location. It’s important to note that once birds find a food source, they will continue to return even if the location changes. Therefore, finding a spot far enough away from trees and other surfaces where they can perch is essential.

One option for alternate locations could be placing the feeder on top of a pole or post with baffles installed above it. This prevents any perching by larger birds such as mourning doves while still allowing smaller birds access to the feeder. Additionally, keeping the feeder at least 10-15 feet away from any nearby shrubs and bushes can make it more difficult for large birds like mourning doves to land near it.

Another alternative is moving the feeder closer to your house or other buildings. Birds tend to avoid areas where there is human activity, so this could discourage them from approaching the feeder altogether. However, keep in mind that some species may feel threatened by proximity to humans and avoid these locations as well.

Finally, try experimenting with different placements until you find one that works best for your situation. You might need to move the feeder several times before finding a spot that keeps mourning doves away but still allows other desired bird species close access to feeders.

Here are three potential locations worth trying:

  1. Move the feeder into an open area without much cover nearby.
  2. Place the feeder on top of a high pole or baffle system.
  3. Relocate the feeder closer to your home or building structure.

Remember that each situation is unique depending on factors such as tree coverage, surrounding wildlife habitat, and local weather patterns; therefore experimentation with various Feeder placement options is key!

Using A Squirrel-Proof Feeder

Having tried moving the feeder to a different location with little success, it’s time to explore other options for keeping mourning doves away from your bird feeder. Did you know that mourning doves are one of the most common birds in North America? With an estimated population of over 400 million, these birds have adapted well to human environments and can be found in urban areas as well as rural ones.

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One effective way to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeder is by using a squirrel-proof feeder. These feeders are designed with mechanisms that prevent squirrels and larger birds like mourning doves from accessing the food inside. However, make sure to choose a model that has small enough openings for smaller songbirds to access the food.

Another option is to use DIY birdhouses around your yard or garden. Providing nesting boxes for smaller songbirds will create competition for resources and may discourage larger species like mourning doves from frequenting the area. Additionally, planting natural bird repellents such as marigolds or citronella can help deter unwanted visitors while also adding beauty to your outdoor space.

It’s important to note that simply removing all sources of food may not be enough to permanently discourage mourning doves from visiting your yard. These birds are opportunistic and persistent when it comes to finding food sources. By combining multiple strategies such as using a squirrel-proof feeder, providing competition through DIY birdhouses, and incorporating natural repellents into your landscaping, you’ll increase your chances of successfully keeping them at bay without harming them.

Providing Multiple Feeding Stations

Feeder placement is an important factor to consider when trying to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeder. You can try placing the feeder in a location that is more difficult for them to access, such as on a high pole or hanging from a tree limb. This will make it harder for the doves to reach and may deter them from visiting.

Another option is to provide multiple feeding stations throughout your yard. This will spread out the food supply and give other birds a chance to feed without competition from the doves. By providing different types of feeders with varying seed sizes, you can attract a greater variety of birds while also making it more difficult for doves to monopolize any one station.

Seed variety can also play a role in deterring mourning doves from your feeder. Choosing seeds that are less appealing to them, such as safflower or nyjer seeds, can reduce their interest in the feeder altogether. Additionally, avoiding seed mixes that contain large amounts of milo or cracked corn can help discourage dove visits.

Providing multiple feeding stations with strategic feeder placement and carefully chosen seed varieties can be effective ways to keep mourning doves away from your bird feeder. With patience and persistence, you may even be able to train these birds to look elsewhere for their next meal.

Maintaining A Clean Feeding Area

Feeder hygiene is a crucial aspect of bird feeding. A clean feeding area reduces the chances of disease transmission among birds and attracts desirable species to your backyard. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your bird feeder clean and free from debris.

One way to maintain feeder hygiene is by using appropriate cleaning agents such as hot soapy water or a mild bleach solution. Scrub the feeder thoroughly with a brush and rinse well before refilling it. Additionally, avoid overfilling the feeder to prevent seed spillage that can attract pests like mourning doves.

Pest management is another critical factor in keeping mourning doves away from your bird feeders. You can use physical barriers such as cages or baffles around the feeder pole to discourage them from perching on it. Alternatively, you can opt for specially made dove-proof feeders that have smaller openings or weight-sensitive mechanisms that close off access when larger birds land on them.

In summary, maintaining a clean feeding area and applying pest management strategies are effective ways of deterring mourning doves from occupying your bird feeders excessively. With these steps in place, you’ll be able to enjoy watching a diverse range of birds visiting your backyard without worrying about any negative impact on their health or wellbeing.


In conclusion, keeping mourning doves away from your bird feeder requires a combination of understanding their feeding habits and using various tactics to discourage them. By changing the type of seed offered or using smaller seeds, you can make it less desirable for the doves. Adding physical barriers or placing the feeder in a different location can also help deter them.

A squirrel-proof feeder and providing multiple feeding stations are additional options. However, maintaining a clean feeding area is essential as it eliminates any food debris that may attract the doves. As wildlife biologists, we understand that attracting birds to our feeders is enjoyable but ensuring they are not competing with each other for resources is crucial. Therefore, by following these tips, you can create an inviting environment for your feathered friends while preventing mourning doves from taking over the feeder like unruly guests at a party.

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