When the sun goes down, many birds begin to roost for the night. Depending on the species and season, some birds seek out dense evergreen vegetation while others like to hide in tree cavities or bird boxes. Other common roosts include barn beams, the underside of bridges and the ledges of buildings.
In general, doves roost in areas that offer protection from weather and predators. They tend to sleep for 10 to 12 hours per night but interspersed with short periods of alertness so that they can quickly become aware of any potential threats in their vicinity.
During the breeding season, doves are often found in pairs but when they’re not reproducing, they’re gregarious creatures and flock together for shelter and protection at night. Typically, they rest together in communal roosts that can be comprised of thousands of birds in one location.
When doves are sleeping, they usually assume the typical bird sleeping position of tucking their head under a feathery shoulder and puffing up their body to conserve heat. They also roost with one eye open in case a threat approaches. This behavior is similar to the way that humans can sleep with only half of their brain working and is known as unihemispheric sleep.
Doves are very adaptable birds and can be found in a variety of habitats including open grassland, savanna, desert and even in our urban backyards. They look for roosting sites that provide shelter from the elements, safety from predators and access to food sources. If you’re interested in attracting mourning doves to your yard, consider placing a feeder or nesting box in your backyard and providing a water source.