No Mourning This Dove!

By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator

Blueberry netting strikes again…
People discovered a Mourning Dove struggling in netting the week before Halloween and brought it to Wild Care. The animal’s frantic attempts to free itself only made things worse. Its feathers were bent and tattered, the wings were contorted, and it was weak with exhaustion. Leah and I worked very carefully and systematically, snipping one string at a time, keeping the bird as motionless as possible. Fortunately, there were no tight constrictions around the neck or legs. We managed to cut and unwrap the entire bird without it getting agitated and breaking any more feathers. Remarkably, there was only one wound on the wrist of one wing, and it was only an abrasion —not a slice! No blood loss, no fractures. What a lucky bird! We cleaned the wound and bandaged it with Manuka Honey.

That was the easy part…
Songbirds and doves are highly stressed and very difficult to rehabilitate. Mourning Doves exhibit the greatest stress of all the smaller birds I have worked with. They will remain completely still, then just react when you barely look at them, like an OFF/ON button. They can drop dozens of feathers each time they panic. They often will hurt themselves further by bashing into the walls of their pen/habitat. Poor Mourning Doves!

Needless to say, the less contact we have with this species when they are in our care, the better…
MODO # 1722 was only handled a few times. It was kept in a soft-sided pen, in a quiet room and only disturbed to add food and water or remove dirty linens. After 9 days, there was new feather growth at the wound, thank goodness. The bird was preening its feathers so well, it looked as though it had never been damaged. Unbelievable!

We continuously monitored its behavior for 12 days, finally it was well enough to graduate to our “Brown Aviary”, where it was able to enjoy privacy and lots of room away from the clinic.  The feathers were waterproof and it flew without trouble, but the release had to wait until his wing feathers were fully grown in. After 21 days at Wild Care, it was finally released. YEAH!


If you find an animal in
distress, please call us at:


Our helpline and our facility
are open EVERY DAY from
9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We are located at the
Orleans rotary (on the Eastham side).

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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!