Doves at CROW

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Every year wildlife hospitals, like the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel, are flooded with young animals that are abducted away from their parents by well-intentioned people who believe these babies to be orphaned. In fact, wild animals are very devoted to the care of their young and human interference is rarely warranted

While it is possible that a mother might be unable to return to a nest due to illness, injury, or death; it is more likely that she is just away foraging for food and will return in due course, according to the natural biology for the species.

At CROW, there are two commonly admitted native doves; the Common Ground Dove and the Mourning Dove. The Common Ground Dove is native to Florida and resides here year-round. It forages in dusty open areas where their plumage provides great camouflage. They have reddish-brown wings distinguishing them from the Mourning Dove. Mourning Doves reside year-round in almost all areas of the United States.

Interestingly enough, Mourning Doves survive quite well in the desert. They are able to drink brackish water (up to almost half the level of the salinity in the sea) without becoming dehydrated like humans would! Common Ground Doves, as can be assumed by their name, nest and feed on the ground. This makes them susceptible to the dangers of predation. The ground dove’s best defense is hiding in vegetation and blending into the dusty ground.

The Common Ground Dove is much smaller than the Mourning Dove and is comparable to the size of a sparrow! Seeds make up about 99 percent of the Mourning Dove’s diet though they will sometimes eat snails and berries. Mourning Doves eat roughly 12 to 20 percent of their body weight on average. The diet of the Common Ground Dove also consists of mostly seeds and it is estimated they have to eat 2,500 seeds every day to meet their energetic demands.

If you find a baby animal and are concerned it may need help, please call us at CROW at 239-472-3644 before trying to help. We will be happy to give you some tips on how to determine if a young animal may be truly orphaned and in need of help, or if Mother Nature has the situation under control.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (9/11-9/17):
There were 89 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 12 eastern gray squirrels, 3 eastern cottontail rabbits, two Florida softshell turtles, two Royal Terns, a double-crested cormorant, a common ground dove, a mourning dove, an alligator snapping turtle, and a purple martin. Recent Releases include a wood stork, a burrowing owl, a clapper rail, an ovenbird, and a great egret. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year.

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center, 3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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