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Moving A Mourning Dove Nest? All You Need To Know

Moving A Mourning Dove Nest? All You Need To Know

I was having a mourning dove nest in my backyard. It was okay until I thought that my pet dog might attack on the nest. So I was forced to make the decision of moving it elsewhere. Since I wasn’t sure just like you, whether it is allowed to move a mourning dove nest or not, I did a thorough research and here’s what I learned.

As per the legal laws, it is not allowed to move a mourning dove nest especially if the nest is active and in which case, one may have to consult a local rescue organization to move the nest. However, if the nest is abandoned or no eggs have been laid yet, then one can move the nest.

Having said that, let’s dive in deeper and talk more about when you can’t move a mourning dove nest, when you can, and precautions you need to take to move the nest. Continue reading till the end to get the answer to all your questions.

When You Can’t Move A Mourning Dove Nest?

So here’s an important thing you need to know. There is a Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 under which more than 800 birds in North America are protected.

And in case you don’t know, here’s a quick description of mourning dove:

Member:Dove family, Columbidae
Other Names:American mourning dove, Rain dove, Turtle dove, Carolina Pigeon, Carolina Turtledove
Description:One of the most widespread of all North American birds

Now the list of migratory bird that are protected under the law can be found in this list. I checked the list and I found that there is a clear mention of “Family COLUMBIDAE”.

And I already shared with you that Mourning Dove belongs to the dove family, Columbidae.

So from this it is very clear that the Mourning dove is also protected under the law and before you take any action related to them you need to make sure that you are not violating any rule.

Now introducing you about the act, it protects the birds in a wide range of ways including their nests.

If the nest is an active nest then it is illegal to interfere with it. An active nest can be thought of as a nest in which eggs are laid by the birds or if it is sitting in the nest.

So to put it simply, if you see any bird nest in your yard or in your patio and notice that there are eggs in the nest or if the bird is already sitting in the nest, then be careful! It is because then it puts you with limitations in terms of options you can do anything legally.

If you have no choice to remove such a nest then you may even have to reach out to a local rescue organization. Generally, these organizations already have permissions or they can obtain permissions in order to do such tasks.

Long story short, if you notice that the mourning bird nest is active (either has eggs or the birds) then you can’t move the nest and your legal options to interfere with nest becomes very limited.

However, does that mean that you can’t move the nest anytime? Well, no that’s not the case! There are some conditions in which you can move a mourning dove nest and so let’s see them.

When You Can Move A Mourning Dove Nest?

As a general rule, here are some possible conditions in which you can move a mourning dove’s nest:

  • If the nest is abandoned
  • If no eggs have been laid yet

In United States, you are not allowed to remove or destroy any nest of native bird species. However, if the nest is abandoned or if no eggs have been laid yet, then you can remove the nests as per your needs.

The early you can do the better it is! What I mean is, as long as the nest is still under construction phase and hasn’t been occupied yet (as long as not considered as an active nest) then you are allowed to move that nest.

So if you notice any mourning dove nest building near your backyard or patio then take action quickly before it gets completed and the bird lays eggs.

You can do one thing and that is first move the nest. And then create a sort of blocking in that area so that the mourning dove doesn’t gets the opportunity to build nest in that area again.

Now let’s say that the mourning dove has done its nesting. Then should you remove it? Will they reuse the nest again? Let’s talk about that as well!

Will Mourning Dove Reuse Nest?

As a general rule, yes, the mourning doves are known to reuse their nests for about five sets of eggs in a single season.

So if possible, try to leave the nest as it is and leave it on the nature. The reason is not just because the mourning dove might reuse it, but also some other bird species can also move into that nest after the mourning dove have left that nest.

Or, it can also happen that the nest is being used by some bird species to build their own nest.

However, if you have no choice but to move the nest then make sure that there aren’t any new birds living in that nest. This way you will not only do good in terms of wildlife but also legally you would be in the safeside!

Precautions To Move A Mourning Dove Nest

Here are some precautionary measures you can take to move a mourning dove nest:

  • Double check to make sure that there are no eggs in the nest.
  • Try to place the nest in a safe and secure location.
  • If possible try to place it close near the original location.
  • Wear gloves while moving the nest to protect yourself from contamination.


In short, if the mourning dove nest is active which means it has eggs of the bird or if the bird has occupied the nest and actively using the nest. Then, you don’t have much to do legally except taking the help of the respective authority or local animal rescue organization who have the rights to deal with such tasks.

But if the nest is completely abandoned and there no eggs then it is okay to move that nest of mourning birds. And lastly, don’t forget to take precautionary measures in order to do least possible harm to the ecosystem. That’s it! Hope this helps, thanks 🙂