The most common doves kept as pets are the Ringneck and Diamond
Doves. The Ringneck Dove has been bred in over 40 color mutations: white,
peach, fawn, and apricot, to name a few. It is also known as the laughing
dove, collared dove, Barbary dove or turtledove. The white mutation
is sometimes called the Java dove, peace dove, or sacred dove.
Color mutations of Diamond Doves include cinnamon, brown,
brilliant, yellow, snow white, white tailed, and silver. The Diamond Dove,
sometimes called the Little Dove or Little Turtledove, belongs to the genus
Geopelia that includes five small, long-tailed doves that eat grains and live
in the relatively open savanna and semi-arid regions in Australia. One of the
five species, the Zebra Dove, has a range that extends into Southeast Asia and
have been imported into and become feral in Hawaii and parts of the continental
USA. Four of the species have barred plumage while the Diamond Dove has spotted
Diamond Doves were imported to Europe in
the late 1800s. They were raised in the London Zoological Garden as early
as 1868. They have become one of the most popular of aviary birds and
are an excellent choice for beginners. They rarely get sick and can be kept
with other small, peaceful, birds such as finches. They also do well inside
and are best kept in pairs. They can live up to fifteen years in captivity,
with an average life expectancy of ten years.
The Diamond Dove is one of the smallest of the Australian
doves, weighing less than an ounce (23 to 27 grams) and about 7-1/2 to
8-1/3 inches long. Adults have a gray body, creamy-white abdomen, blue gray
and chestnut wing feathers with white diamond specks on the wings, a long tail
with white tipped outer tail feathers and dark gray bill. The legs and feet
are pink. The adult birds' eyes have orange irises with a pronounced orange-red
orbital ring and can often be sexed by the thickness of the eye ring and the
color of the wing feathers. At maturity (about one year), the males have a silver
gray color and a wide eye ring (about 2-3 mm). The females tend toward a brown
gray color and have a thinner eye ring (about 1 mm thick).
Diamond Doves have a variety of cooing calls. Birds in captivity
will sometimes imitate human coos, too. They are very affectionate -- when
one bird of a pair returns to a nest they often greet each other with
very low, raspy coos. At night, if they are not nesting, they cuddle with
each other and give their mate a series of very rapid light pecks around the
neck and head while slightly shaking their wings. When mated birds become separated
they will make a two-note call until they become reunited.
As with all birds, Diamond Doves need enough cage room to move
around, roost and exercise comfortably. A pair can be kept in as small as an
18 inch square cage but should be allowed free indoor flight every day. Minimum
flight cage size should be 3'x 4'x 6'. They should never be allowed outdoor
free flight as they lack the "homing" instinct of pigeons.
Clean, fresh water is essential. Water bowls should be open
and fairly deep as doves suck water into their bills. Offer a bathing dish once
or twice a week with about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of luke-warm water, or mist the birds
with a clean spray bottle. Cages should be located in a draft free area away
from heating and cooling outlets, open windows, fireplaces and kitchen cooking
fumes. If the cage is in a dark room or if the area becomes very cool, add a
light attached to a timer. Vitalites, although expensive, provide a healthy
These birds are happiest kept in mated pairs, but unless you
want a lot of birds, you should remove the eggs once laid. Males can become
territorial and may fight, especially if there is a female present. Females
usually get along well together.
They eat small whole seeds such as millet, canary grass, milo
and wheat (a vitamin-fortified finch mix would work well) and are primarily
ground feeders so should be provided separate seed, water and grit containers
on or close to the floor. Also provide a cuttlebone, at least two natural-type
perches of varying height, size and spacing, a small canary-type nest and dried
grasses for nest building. Millet seed sprays, fresh greens, an occasional piece
of whole wheat bread, hard boiled egg yolk and small meal worms are welcome
treats. Grit should include crushed eggshells or oyster shells for calcium,
sand for food grinding purposes, and tiny bits of charcoal as a digestion aid.
Diamonds are devoted and very affectionate birds. When one
bird of a pair returns to a nest they often greet each other with very low,
raspy coos. At night, if they are not nesting, they often cuddle with each other
and exchange very rapid light pecks around the neck and head while slightly
shaking their wings. When separated, the birds give a two-note call until they
Diamond Doves are charming birds and make a wonderful addition
to any aviary. They are particularly suited to apartment living, as they are
fairly quiet, clean and non-destructive. They can be tamed with gentle and persistent
handling, but will be friendliest if purchased young from a small breeder who
has handled the babies from the time they are hatched. Although they will never
talk and most likely won't learn "tricks", they are beautiful and
will provide hours of quiet entertainment and pleasure.
Ringnecks can be kept alone and tame quite easily, even as
adults, with lots of patience. Let the bird see you often, always use gentle,
slow movements, talk softly, and offer treats from your open palm, and within
a few weeks the bird should trust you enough to step up onto your finger. If
a bird raises its wing vertically over its shoulder and backs away, withdraw
and try again later. Frightened doves can bash against the cage bars with enough
force to injure themselves. When cornered, a terrified dove will "slap" you
with its wing, although most doves won't bite or peck. Males tend to be quarrelsome
with other males so it is best to keep them singly or in mated pairs.
If you let your doves out, be prepared for them to fly up to
the highest curtain rod and down to the floor to walk around the room looking
for tidbits or nesting materials. They will return to their cage in time. Their
droppings are well formed and harden quickly, so are easy to pick up with a
vacuum cleaner. Don't be alarmed if your doves spend a few moments each day
lounging on the bottom of their cage or on the floor, as long as they get up
and go back to their perches within about an hour or so. Doves all exhibit this
'couch-potato' lounging posture, particularly in the afternoon, which is 'dove
Pigeons are not often viewed as pets. Most pigeons are bred
to race, to show or to be used for food. Urban feral pigeon populations
are considered nuisances or health hazards and are often exterminated in large
quantities. But the pigeon has a noble history, is one of the most loyal and
devoted of birds, and, when raised with love and attention, can be a faithful
and treasured companion.
Pigeons are a parrot's close avian relative. Pigeons bond easily
with humans, especially those that feed them, and a tamed pigeon, kept
alone, will become a faithful and loyal companion to its human. Maintaining
a mated pair is not necessary, and unless you are racing or showing them, you
probably don't want any extra birds.
Caging needs to be large enough to allow the bird wing-flapping
room and to avoid striking tail or wing feathers on the sides. Just like with
doves, these birds are ground feeders, so provide their seed, water and grit
on or near the floor of the cage. Install at least two natural-wood perches
or a shelf and a perch. The shelf should be at least 6 inches deep and be the
highest of the perches. Pigeons enjoy fresh seed gasses and other greens, whole
wheat bread snacks and whole seeds such as safflower, popcorn, peas and other
grains. Commercial pigeon seeds or pellets are available at most feed stores.
They need larger grit than doves and also should have some eggshell or oyster
shell available for calcium. Fresh daily water in a 2" deep dish is essential.
Pigeons love to bathe, to provide a large, flat 1-2" deep dish of water
at least twice a week.
The only way to determine the sex of most pigeons is by behavior.
At maturity, males tend to bow and coo and strut with fanned tails around their
object of affection. They are quite vocal. Females are more demure.
A pet pigeon can be a true delight for the enlightened and