Dovecote Birdhouse Myth Expounded September 16 2014
The dictionary defines dovecote as: A shelter with nest holes for domesticated pigeons, and as Large housing with multiple nesting sites that were used for shelter. The term dovecote actually comes from England, many moons ago when people raised and trained homing pigeons - thereby domesticating the birds who were housed together.
Thus the connection between pigeons, doves and dovecote. Simply put, wild doves in our yards don’t use birdhouses. Mourning Doves may use a nest platform, but they usually choose the most precarious of locations.
Although stunning as an architectural landscape accent, most birds aren’t too fond of sharing quarters. This is not to say the occasional chickadee or titmouse won't take up residence though.
Purple Martins will use them, but so will killer house sparrows and starlings. If offering a dovecote martin birdhouse, house sparrows should be highly discouraged- (and from bluebird houses too).
Think about it, have you ever really seen a white dove in the wild? Chance are pretty slim, because these are domesticated birds wrongly used for release at weddings, funerals and other events. More commonly, it’s white homing pigeons who are released and trained to return home that are used for these affairs. They’re even banded with ID should they get lost!
We find the saddest part is probably that once released, doves have no instinct to return anywhere and don’t fare so well once set free into open blue skies. Their lack of basic instincts for survival in the wild, weather, predators and poor flying skills will likely claim the bird’s life because they’re domesticated, meaning basically they’re pets.
Some may find shelter around barns or other out buildings, but sadly most don’t make it. The doves we see in our own yards and at feeders are common mourning and ring-necked doves, and they won’t use your dovecote either. In fact, mourning doves are almost a bit goofy when it comes to choosing a location for nest building, picking some of the most precarious spots which may not be very secure or safe for nestlings.
So what spurred writing about this information? A canceled order last year to which the customer replied: “The reason I canceled is because I want an actual dovecote that houses doves- not a dovecote style birdhouse. Do you carry actual dovecotes?” Makes us wonder if he’s planning on raising some pigeons?