What Do Doves Eat? (Diet Guide)

Doves are capable of eating most foods that fit into their beaks. However, not all foods benefit them, so it is important to know what do doves eat. And what are their favorite foods you can feed them easily?

Doves can eat seeds, vegetables, worms, fruits, insects, and many more foods such as nuts. They fulfill their nutritional requirements from these foods, and also, these foods are beneficial for their health.

Table of Contents

What Do Doves Eat In The Wild?

A lot of people do not know what doves eat in the wild, but this is an important question to answer since they are often raised as pets.

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In the wild, their diet consists of seeds and grains, but they mostly rely on vegetarian sources that they find while foraging. They can even eat small insects when necessary.

Doves are omnivores, meaning they eat both non-veg and plants. They feed primarily on seeds in the wild, especially those with high protein content.

Suet is an excellent source of protein and fats, and fats are a healthy component of the dove’s diet. Avocados, bananas, and certain grasses also make up a large part of the doves’ diet.

Some doves may also consume buds and fruit from ornamental trees such as yellowwood. Doves often consume fallen fruits in the season by smashing them with their beaks in the wild.

Doves are typically insectivores or seed eaters. They usually forage on a wide variety of seeds, fruits, and insects, and you can even find them eating small crabs from time to time.

Doves also enjoy picking and feeding on young plant shoots, lichens, and small roots. Although it may seem unusual for a bird with no teeth, doves manage to consume large quantities of food by crushing it with their powerful grit-covered gizzard before swallowing.

What Do Doves Eat In The Captivity?

Naturally, doves eat seeds and fruits. In captivity, these birds can also eat hay, oats, rolled oats, pellet food, and even vegetables.

They also feed on plants like saltwort (saltwater cordgrass), marsh samphire, and red vein sedge when nesting along shoreline areas of marshes or estuaries.

In captivity, they eat both seeds from commercially available birdseed mixtures and table scraps, including bread.

Doves are typically fed in a dovecote as they tend to overeat if not watched carefully. Doves may have a high appetite for hay, but supplementing the diet with other food options will help keep them healthy by consuming their recommended caloric intake per day.

Doves are very popular pets to own, and they also make great companions. Many people think that they should give up their free-range life when bringing a dove home.

However, in captivity, doves should be given a simple diet, and they can often be fed a balanced diet of pellets or seeds with fruits and vegetables.

Doves that enjoy being outside need more work on what to feed them – for example, the owners need to make sure that the dove has plenty of fresh water away from their property where it can drink freely without having its feathers get wet.

What Vegetables Can Doves Eat?

The vegetables that doves can eat are broccoli, celery, and spinach. A dove is a type of bird commonly seen in gardens or parks because it eats insects and small pests.

Different types of doves like different vegetables, so you should see what type of vegetables your dove likes. Some vegetables that doves can eat are listed below – along with their benefits:

  • Broccoli
    • Provides vitamins, fibers, and minerals.
    • Helps to eliminate wastes and toxins from the body.
  • Celery
    • Provides nutrients like carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, sugars, and vitamin C, as well as fiber.
    • Helps to eliminate toxins from the liver, lungs, and digestive system.
  • Spinach
    • It contains high amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that fights against cell damage in the body. Other nutrients in spinach include vitamins A, K, and beta-carotene. Also, it makes it an excellent antioxidant for your eyes. Spinach also contains vitamins B1, B2, and folates, essential for a healthy heart.
    • Spinach helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body and de-clogs blood vessels in the process.

Doves can eat other vegetables such as cauliflower, cucumber, corn, and cabbage. Other benefits of these vegetables are that they contain good amounts of vitamin K, essential for blood clotting. They also provide folates needed to convert food into energy and cell development.

What Fruits Can Doves Eat?

Fruits that the dove can eat include apples, bananas, and mango. They also eat berries like raspberries. Sometimes they will nibble on fruits like apricots and oranges.

Also, they can eat fruit that has fallen on the ground and fruit that is still attached to trees or vines.

Fruit is one of their favorite foods in the wild because it provides them with vital nutrients to survive and breed successfully. Some fruits and their benefits that doves can eat are listed below.

  • Apple: Apple is one of the favorite fruits that doves eat, including other fruits. It helps with eye health, improves digestion, and is good for skin health.
  • Banana: Doves can eat all parts of a banana plant or its fruit. Banana helps increase stamina, assist with circulation and muscle development, and has a high fiber content.
  • Mango: Mangoes are high in vitamins A, and C, fiber, and minerals like potassium and zinc. Mangos help improve the immune system and assist with digestion, and it’s a good source of antioxidants.
  • Berry: Berries provide doves with a source of water and other trace elements that are needed for good health like vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium, and folic acid.
  • Apricot: Doves can eat apricot seeds or whole fruit. They eat the whole fruit if it is fresh on the tree or after it falls on the ground.

What Seeds Can Doves Eat?

Doves can eat sunflower seeds, but what seeds doves can eat can depend on where they live.

For example, the doves will mainly eat white oak acorns in Michigan, while the doves like to dine on Mexican acanthus in Texas.

It all comes down to what type of seed is available and is a specific species of dove. It is also a pretty even split between sunflower seeds and dry grape pellets because these particular seeds have high oil content.

If you are looking for an easy way to feed your doves, dry grape pellets are best suited for the job because they have high calories.

Doves are mostly seed-eaters, with a preference for seeds from sorghum, millet, and other grasses. They are also attracted to palm nuts and acorns.

However, they will never eat raw grain or berries. They use their beaks to grind food into a fine paste and regurgitate it onto their tongue, it moistens the food and helps them swallow it more easily.

Doves are mostly scavengers, but they need a diet rich in all types of seeds. They will also eat fruit when fruits are small enough for them to swallow whole without resorting to a chewing motion with their beak.

Doves perform several necessary functions in the natural world by eating fruits when they are small enough or feasting on vegetables left behind by other animals.

Best Foods To Feed Doves

  • Lettuce (or other leafy greens), cabbage, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts are high in protein and calcium.
  • Some other foods that doves may enjoy are sunflower seeds, apples, oranges, and berries.
  • Doves can eat any seed, including birdseed mixes containing cracked corn and millet.
  • Doves can also eat grass if they have a lawn nearby or garden to forage in.
  • Doves will also eat some commercial foods designed for doves.
  • If you are not home when they are eating, try to place a commercial food in the cage at mealtime (such as sunflower seed mix or millet) or offer a small amount of scratch grain or birdseed.
  • Doves will eat almost any raw fruit or vegetable if offered in small amounts.
  • Mealworms can be very beneficial.
  • Bread is also good for doves and has a lot of benefits for them.
  • If you decide to feed your dove fruit and vegetables, make sure it is fresh and washed.

Occasionally a dove may need nutritional supplements in vitamins or minerals such as zinc, saltwater (sodium chloride), calcium carbonate (for eggshell formation), and vitamin A.

What Human Food Can Doves Eat?

Human food that doves can eat includes:

  • Dried fruit (apricots and figs).
  • Peanuts (special care must be taken in offering peanuts to a dove).
  • Corn on the cob.
  • Oatmeal (ideally cooked and cooled).
  • Nuts and nut butter.
  • Protein bars or crackers with peanut butter.
  • Bread with peanut butter.
  • Pasta or noodles with tomato sauce and vegetables (add protein if desired).

These are human foods that a dove can eat, and they can also eat safflower seed, sunflower seed, millet, wheat, wild bird seed mix, and dried mealworms.

These are the core foods that doves like to eat. Offering these foods to help a dove grow healthy and strong. Freezing your food is optional but can help make the food last longer. Let your dove thaw its food in a bowl before eating it.

How To Feed Doves?

If you own a dove and want to feed it food, you have many options. However, feeding them is not as easy as throwing a few crackers in the cage. There are many different ways to be fed, but some foods are better than others.

Some methods that are used to serve food to doves are listed below:

  • You can set up a bird feeder near the dove’s living space to provide food.
  • The food is served on an elevated surface or platform so that the doves can access it. The bowls of food are spaced at regular intervals. It should encourage a natural pecking order that prevents conflicts over resources and encourages birds to move around the area where their food is placed.
  • A platform underneath the platform where the food is served is made of wire mesh or a perforated metal sheet. It allows the doves to look through and see foraging food.
  • The doves are given access to a small pecked feeder containing small amounts of food.
  • In some cases, bird feeders are made so that they can be held in your hand while you enjoy an activity outside (this method would not work in areas with high humidity).
  • If a tree branch or perch is placed outside the dove cage, there is less chance of the doves getting caught in the bird feeder.
  • Scraps of food are sometimes placed on the ground to encourage foraging behavior.
  • It should be done in a manner that does not attract predators that may steal food from doves.
  • Doves are provided with a feeder with bread, cracked corn, and millet seeds.

How Often Do You Feed Doves?

Doves can eat two to three times a day, and doves should be fed at 11 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm. After the doves have eaten their food, they will fall asleep for about 10 minutes. Weekly feedings seem enough for most people who enjoy bird-watching in their backyards.

How Much To Feed Doves?

They are opportunistic feeders. They will eat as much as they can, so the answer to this question depends on food availability in their environment.

However, seven to ten percent of their body weight per day is good. For example, a dove weighing 130 grams might eat 13 to 18 grams per day if it has abundant food resources and about 6 to 8 grams per day if it is trying to survive in an environment with few resources available.

They cannot eat too much at one time. If a dove is given too many seeds to eat, its stomach will get full and vomit the food.

The bird’s digestive system regulates what amounts are safe for them to consume. It is important that doves do not overeat food like this because it interferes with their health and can even kill them.

What Do Doves Eat In The Winter?

Doves are birds that eat seeds, grain, and other plant material. They usually eat the seed heads of the vernal grasses but will also eat grain, fruit, figs, and wild berries.

However, they can migrate thousands of miles each year to find food in different regions in winter.

It is not difficult for birds like doves to adapt their diet to suit seasonal changes because their digestive systems are well adapted for digesting plant matter without hard parts or meat. However, this varies depending on factors like climate, availability of food, etc.

What Do Doves Eat While Nesting?

Doves eat food items while nesting, including grit, crumbs, twigs, and small insects. It helps the doves to process their food and digest it more easily.

Some of these items include decaying carcasses that have been left behind by predators, mites off the bark of trees such as beech or oak, and caterpillars found on leaves that are infested with disease-causing insects.

What Do Mourning Doves Eat?

Mourning doves eat a wide range of natural seeds, grains, and other plant material. They also feed on animal-based protein pellets made from corn and soybeans.

This high-protein diet ensures their health in the wild as they can reproduce more quickly, grow faster, and live longer. Do mourning doves eat peanuts?

As an important part of our ecosystem, mourning doves play an important role in seed dispersal through their droppings or regurgitation of food sources such as grasses, weeds, vines, and tree bark.

What Do Baby Doves Eat?

Baby doves eat seeds, green leaves, and insects. So they will eat whatever their parents bring to them.

In captivity, you can feed baby doves twice a day, and flax seed cake supplements should be provided to keep up with the bird’s nutritional needs.

Baby doves also drink water for hydration through the wet food they eat. Keep in mind that babies are often fed twice a day unless they grow too big too quickly.

Baby doves are mostly fed by their parents, who give them seeds and grains gathered from the ground. However, if there is a food shortage, baby doves will also eat some insects.

What Should You Not Feed Doves?

Below are the food items that you should not feed to your doves, along with the reasons why you should avoid these food items:

Peanuts: Peanuts are not a good food item to feed your doves. They can contain molds that can be harmful to your doves.

Eggs: Feeding eggs to your doves could make them sick by causing diarrhea which ultimately may lead to death.

Yogurt: Yogurt is not a good food item to feed your doves. It could upset the normal balance in their stomach and cause diarrhea which is bad for them.

Oranges: These are not a good food item to feed your doves since they could leave the peel on, making it difficult for the dove’s digestive system.

Tomatoes, apples, and grapes are not good food items to feed your doves since they can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems to your doves.

It is best not to offer water after eating because it can cause them to regurgitate undigested food and make them uncomfortable.

What Do Doves Drink?

Doves consume many different plants for sustenance, but their main water source is rain, which they drink from the ground.

After having a good drink from the ground, doves spend most of their time on top of buildings and trees.

Can Doves Eat Oatmeal?

Yes, doves can eat oatmeal. Doves are omnivores and enjoy the consumption of both seeds and small insects.

Oatmeal is a type of grain that is also a source of carbohydrates and protein, and doves can eat most seeds and grains.

Generally, doves are herbivores which means they get their nutritional needs met by eating plants and plant-based food sources.

Though many believe doves are only herbivores, they will also eat meat like worms, crickets, and earthworms.

The question comes from an old myth that doves cannot open their beaks up wide enough to swallow grains of oats or any other type of cereal foodstuff, and it is a misconception because it is not true.

The idea behind this superstition seems to be that if you feed these birds a type of foodstuff, they will choke on it, and this could happen with any bird, not just doves in particular.

Can Doves Eat Rice?

Yes, doves can eat rice. To get the full nutritional value of rice, it needs to be uncooked. Processed or cooked rice loses its nutritional value and becomes more like a filler, and rice becomes more digestible when soaked for at least five minutes before cooking.

Despite what many people believe, doves are not vegetarians because birds need protein and nutrients that are not found in plants alone. Doves are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and non-veg.

Rice is grown in water and can be eaten by doves. Doves’ diet mainly consists of seeds and grains, which they consume mostly from the ground.

To begin the process of digestion, the doves first have to swallow a small piece of grain with saliva, which will help break down starch into simple sugars that are easier for their bodies to digest.

Furthermore, if a dove eats enough rice while it’s in its stomach cavity, it will create quite an odor that other birds might not want near them as they will think this bird has recently died or is still decaying inside its body.

Can Doves Eat Bread?

Yes, it is true that doves eat bread and even prefer a particular type of bread. Doves are often seen around bread, and doves will eat white bread, whole wheat bread, or rye bread.

They will also eat flour bread, white bread, whole grain, or sweetened bread. Doves can eat other grains, such as corn and oats, but they are not a good food source for doves.

So if you have a dove that loves eating humans’ leftovers, make it a habit to clean out your bird’s cage at least once every day so they can have some fresh bread as a bedtime snack.

Doves will also eat cornbread and sweet potato bread, and they enjoy eating fruit jam-filled bread as well.

Although they prefer and will eat this type of bread, they will also eat plain white or wheat bread if that is the only kind of bread available.

Bread is a great source of energy for doves, not just to help them with their everyday activity levels but also to help them survive through the breeding season or when food sources are low.

During this time, they need every bit of energy they can get, so they must get enough to feed their young as well as themselves.

But feeding bread to doves in excess amounts is not a safe idea and overfeeding them with bread is dangerous for their health as it may cause severe health conditions.


Doves can eat seeds, vegetables, worms, fruits, insects, and many more foods such as nuts. They fulfill their nutritional requirements from these foods, and also, these foods are beneficial for their health. But do not overfeed them with these foods because it may lead to major health problems.

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