Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura, Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a common forage plant that grows over much of the United States. It has drawn interest as a possible feedstock for biofuels, is used as forage for livestock, is planted for soil conservation, and is a component of the diet of some species of wildlife. We analyzed the energy content of seeds of switchgrass obtained from the crops of mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) collected from plains-mesa sand-scrub in Lea and Eddy counties, New Mexico. Seeds were removed from crops and dried for 48 hours at 60°C to remove moisture and standardize masses. Seeds were then analyzed for gross caloric value (i.e., energy content) in an oxygen bomb calorimeter. Energy content of seeds of switchgrass from New Mexico averaged 18.4 J/kg (4.4 kcal/g—standard deviation, 0.7 J/kg [0.2 kcal/g]) and was lower than that of most other food items previously reported from the diet of mourning doves.