Mourning Dove Symbolism: Meaning, History, and Interesting Facts

mourning dove symbols and symbolism

In the study of animal symbolism, you will notice that birds appear more often than other species. This is probably because birds possess a mystic quality which we’re just naturally drawn to. We can even draw various symbolism from the common mourning dove.

Among the variety of doves, the mourning dove is the most common one found in North America. You see them everywhere – the little brown-feathered birds playing in your backyard, in trees around the city, and every place where they can build a nest on. After all, they’ve adapted to live life with humans. In this article, I’ll talk about the symbolism that can be drawn from the mourning dove. Ready for our mourning dove symbolism guide?

Mourning Dove Symbolism: Meaning

Peace. Generally, a dove is considered as a symbol of peace. Although artworks usually depict a white dove carrying an olive branch, the case is no different for a mourning dove. It is believed that when you see a mourning dove in flight, it is telling you to be free of emotional burdens and find peace.

Love. Mourning doves also symbolize love. There is a belief that these birds link our hearts to the spiritual realm and thus helps us open our hearts to love.

Freedom. In general, birds are all considered as symbols of freedom. This originated from the biblical story of Noah, where the dove’s return signified that they were finally free to leave the ark.

Trust and friendship. Mourning doves are migratory birds who move in a flock. They have a unique formation as well where the squabs go first, followed by the females, and with the adult males at the end of the trail. This shows how the young and the female trust the males, leading to stronger connections among the species.

Strength. Mourning doves are known for their flying prowess. It has been recorded that these tiny fowls can fly at a speed of up to 55 miles per hour. As such, they have been recognized as a symbol of strength.

Adaptability. A notable characteristic of the mourning dove is its ability to adapt to change. They are one of the birds who can live with humans, regardless of any modification made to their former habitat. This makes them the perfect symbolism for adaptability to change.

The History of Mourning Doves

Not much is known about when mourning doves were discovered and thus, our mourning dove symbolism piece doesn’t really have much information on that. Nevertheless, Native American literature is replete with stories of the interaction between humans and the mourning dove.

One story narrates that Native Americans believed that the mourning dove was a sign of impending rain. This would give them enough time to prepare for the rainy season. Other stories reveal that, in certain circumstances, Native Americans are called to connect with the spirit once they see a mourning dove.

In both instances, we can see that the mourning dove played an important role for the Native Americans. Contemporary poets also pay tribute to this brilliant bird. Charles Wright and Robert Bly are among the notable poets who wrote about mourning doves.

From a scientific perspective, the first known documentation of the mourning dove can be gleaned from the work of Carl Linnaeus, a renowned naturalist. His first published work in 1758 was about the West Indian mourning dove, one of its five sub-species.

In 1838, a French zoologist coined the scientific term for the mourning dove, which is Zenaida macroura. He named it after his wife, Zenaide, and after the Ancient Greek words “makros” and “oura” which meant “long” and “tall” respectively.

Currently, mourning doves are among the most widely-distributed species of doves. Aside from North America, they also have a notable presence in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. The species was also introduced in Hawaii in 1963.

mourning dove symbolism

Mourning Dove: Interesting Facts

The mourning dove derives its name from the melancholic tone it makes while cooking. Interestingly enough, the melancholic tone does not depict their sadness at all. On the contrary, the cooing is usually made during their courtship rituals. Native Americans have high regard for the mourning dove. They respected them and treated them as a symbol for inner growth and spiritualism. In fact, the first Native American novelist used Mourning Dove as her pen name.

The mourning dove is also considered as a symbol of peace in the state of Wisconsin. Similarly, the state of Michigan also refers to the mourning dove as their official bird of peace. Alternatively, the mourning dove had a different meaning in Japan. They used to believe that this bird and its cooing signified a war that’s about to take place.

Another interesting fact about this species is its ability to store food for later digestion. They are capable of storing large amounts of food in their crop, then fly to a safe space once it’s full. They then begin digesting while they’re taking a break.

Unlike other birds, mourning doves prefer dining on seeds rather than on insects. Alternate Names for the mourning dove include rain dove, Carolina pigeon, and Caroline turtledove.

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