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Dove Birds – All You Need to Know About this Symbolic Pet Bird!

dove birds

Have you ever seen some dove birds in public parks and pet stores? These birds have been a symbol of peace in different cultures, and there are over 300 species in the world.

If you’re looking to add them to your existing flock, or you’re just wondering what to feed them the next time you meet in parks or your yard, you came to the right place!

In this article, we’ll share with you some insights on doves’:

  • Personality and behavior and how should you deal with them
  • Their common health issues and conservation status
  • How to care for them as pets and as visitors in your garden

But before that, here’s a little overview of the dove’s origin and lifestyle.

Dove Birds Overview

Family: Columbidae 
Lifespan: 1.5 years
Diet: Omnivores/ Frugivores/ Granivores
Talking Abilities: Can’t talk or mimic human speech
Habitat:   Savannas, grasslands, temperate woodlands and forests, deserts, mangrove forests, barren sands

Dove's natural habitat

Dove Bird’s Origin and Natural Habitat

Doves exist in every part of the world, excluding the Antarctic. Each species has a different origin, but they all share the same preference for their home.

They usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, temperate woodlands and forests, deserts, mangrove forests, barren sands, and atoll’s gravel.

types of doves

Types of Dove Bird Breeds:

As said earlier, there are over 300 dove types in the world, but only a few are kept as pets. Here are the most common dove species.

1. Mourning Dove

It’s a small-headed, thin-tailed, and graceful dove that often rests in telephone lines and hunts seeds on the ground. It flies quickly and precisely, and its sluggish, prolonged calls resemble laments.

2. Eurasian Collared Doves

Thes doves also sit on the phone lines, posts, and fences. They have flash white feathers on their tail and a flurry of dark-tipped on their wings.

3. Inca Dove

The diminutive Inca Dove blends in seamlessly with its suburban desert environments thanks to its tan feathers that have a scaly appearance.

That is, until it suddenly takes off, its underwings and tail flashing chestnut and making a dry, rattling whir.

4. Turtle Dove

Turtle doves are a colorful, delicate type of dove that got their name from their sweet turrrturr-ing sound.

It typically forages in arable and mixed farms in the UK’s open habitats, where it can find its favorite food, wildflower seeds, and agricultural crop grains on the ground.

5. Spotted Dove

The stocky spotted dove has a square-tipped tail. Adults have pale brown upper parts with dark buff streaks. The breasts are a light pinkish gray, white belly and a long brown tail has white tips.

6. African Collared-Dove (Ringed Turtle-Dove)

In North America, the African Collared-Dove is rarely spotted in the wild and is sometimes confused with the Eurasian Collared-Dove.

Birds that are sighted are frequently escaped pets and are referred to as Ringed Turtle-Doves, a variety of the long-domesticated African Collared-Dove.

7. White-winged Dove

White-winged Doves eat berries from trees or waste grain and seeds from the ground. They have a dark line on their cheek and are generally brown.

As the bird takes flight, a white stripe at the folded wing’s edge transforms into a dazzling flash in the center of a dark wing.

8. Common Ground-Dove

The Common Ground-Dove, a sparrow-sized dove that forages in open, dusty places, is occasionally hidden by the grass clumps it is grazing beneath. As it takes off, with a flash of its reddish-brown wings and quiet rattling of feathers, the dusty plumage is easy to overlook.

9. White-crowned Pigeon

Slaty gray adult white-crowned pigeon males have white caps, pale eyes, a patch of iridescent green at the nape of their necks, reddish-colored legs, and reddish bills with pale tips.

They forage on ripe fruit from native trees close to the treetops, frequently doing acrobatic movements, even upside down, to access fruits while perching.

10. Band-tailed Pigeon

The Band-tailed Pigeon, a woodland relative of the common Rock Pigeon, is widespread in forests along the Pacific Coast and the Southwest.

It gathers in big flocks in the highland forests and has a kind coo. Its diet consists mainly of nuts and fruits.

dove bird as pet

Dove Bird’s Personality and Behavior

Most doves are hands-off pets, so they feel terrified when petted at first. But they can be hand-tamed. These birds are friendly with other doves and may get used to eating food from your hand.

As you spend more time with them, they can grow accustomed to your existence, become more affectionate and loving, and learn to trust you.

Pigeons vs. Doves – What’s the Difference

Pigeons and doves share similar basic characteristics. For example, they both eat the same diet, all species build flimsy nests, and their egg clutches are 1 or 2.

Furthermore, both sexes produce pigeon or crop milk to feed their young and take care of their chicks.

But is there a difference between a pigeon and a dove?

The main difference between doves and pigeons is in their size and tails.

Doves are typically smaller than pigeons. For example, the smallest species is the New World Ground Dove which measures 5 inches and weighs less than one ounce.

On the other hand, the largest species is the Crowned Pigeon of New Guinea which can grow up to 4 to 9 pounds.

There are fancy pigeon species, but doves’ tails are more intricate and expressive.

But are pigeons doves, or are doves just fancy pigeons? No. They belong to the same bird family, the Columbidae, but they’re not the same.

dove on its nest

Dove Bird Breeding Season and Egg Laying Habits

During courtship, males attract females with their aerobatic performances. They fly up with their noisy wingbeat and glide in a long circular motion while spreading their wings fully and slightly bowing down.

And when they approach the female on the ground, their chest puffs out and serenade the female with emphatic cooing songs.

Where Do Doves Nest?

Males bring the female doves into the potential nest site, but the females always have the final say. Their nest site can be a tree, shrub, ground or building ledge, or other structure.

And their nest is noticeably flimsy since it’s made of twigs. The males are the one who brings the materials while the female builds.

What Month Do Doves Lay Eggs?

Dove’s breeding season starts from April through July, but it can vary depending on their location. Those living in the extreme north start as early as March, while those in the southern areas begin breeding in February or a month earlier.

Incubation and Raising Young Doves

Male and female doves work and help each other in incubating their chicks. They also provide their young with pigeon milk.

After 15 days, chicks can already leave the nest but wait nearby to be fed for the next 1 to 2 weeks. Each dove pair can raise 5 to 6 broods per year in the southern region.

Speech and Sound of Dove Birds

If you’re planning to keep doves as pets, be ready for constant cooing. Some people enjoy listening to the sound they produce, but others won’t.

Unlike parrots, doves can’ talk or mimic human speech or screech. So, if you’re looking for a talking pet bird for beginners, they’re not the ideal option for you.

Dove Bird’s Predators and Threats

Doves in the wild are prone to predation from terrestrial animals such as hawks and falcons that attacks from above. Owls, crows, bobcats, opossums, skunks, snakes, raccoons, and foxes may also prey on them.

They’re not entirely safe in captivity either because dogs and cats may attack and hurt them too.

These tiny birds and their nest can also be victims of storms that may blow their nests and human hunting activities. Furthermore, hunters hunt doves for food, sports, or pest control.

Yes, doves are edible! In fact, many people say that doves are tastier than ducks and pheasants.

In states where dove hunting is allowed, the bag limit per person is between 10 to 15 birds per day. So they can have enough for a gourmet dinner.

Since dove hunting is easier than ducks and other birds and it’s low-cost and low maintenance, it became a starter target for new hunters.

mourning dove

Where to Find A Dove Bird For Sale

You may find doves in public parks or other public places. But if you’re looking for a dove pet, we recommend checking out your local reputable bird breeders.

There’s a wide range of dove species, but only a few popular ones are available in pet stores like Diamond and ring-necked doves. They’re also available in avian-specialty stores.

The cost may range from $20 to $100 depending on the species, so they’re lighter on the pocket than parrots.

Dove Birds’ Conservation Status

Dove birds are abundant on earth are populations of many species are listed as “stable,” including:

  • Dover Sole
  • Pacific Dover Sole
  • Marquesas Ground Dove
  • Picui Dove
  • Makatea Fruit-dove
  • Oriental Turtle-Dove
  • Stock Dove
  • Henderson Fruit-Dove
  • Yungas Dove
  • Rarotonga Fruit-Dove
  • Western Spotted Dove
  • Zebra Dove
  • Stephan’s Dove
  • African Collared-Dove
  • Croaking Ground Dove

Some species are thriving and increasing, too, such as:

  • Mourning Dove
  • Eastern Spotted Dove
  • Croaking Ground-Dove

But around 316 existing doves and species are believed to be threatened, especially those living on small islands with limited ranges.

The following species’ populations are also decreasing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN):

  • Little Auk
  • Black Cuckoo Dove
  • Rapa Fruit Dove
  • Brown-backed Dove
  • Shy Ground-Dove
  • Carunculated Fruit Dove
  • Negros Fruit Dove
  • Grey-capped Emerald Dove
  • Wetar Ground Dove
  • Mariana Fruit Dove
  • Polynesian Ground Dove
  • Caroline Ground Dove
  • Grenada Dove
  • Tolima Dove
  • Purple-winged Ground Dove
  • Red-naped Fruit Dove
  • Blue-eyed Ground-Dove
  • Rock Dove
  • Palau Ground Dove

dove eating seeds

Dove Bird Care Tips — How to Raise These Feathery Friends

Unlike parrots, dove birds can’t climb up their cage bars, so they move by flying back and forth. That’s why these birds need a wider cage.

To keep your dove’s feet in good shape, give it different perch styles with varying diameters.

The doves like to take a bath too! So they’d love it if you could allow them to bathe.

But What Do Doves Eat?

Doves eat different grains, seeds, greens, fruits, and berries. They can even eat insects, snails, and earthworms!

But their favorite food includes sunflower seeds, millet, milo, wheat, and cracked corn. So, the next time you meet them in public parks or your garden, they’d love it if you could bring their favorites!

Dove eats their seeds whole, so they need the grit to aid digestion. They’d also benefit from having a calcium supplement crucial during the breeding season.

If you want your doves to live longer, give them a few months to have a break and rest after every two or three clutches before breeding them again. Doing so will help your dove recover from exhaustion and stay healthy.

Common Health Issues of Dove Birds

Doves are generally healthy birds, but they’re prone to the following:

Red mites

These parasites live in pigeon lofts’ cracks and crevices and attack the birds at night by sucking blood. They’re unnoticeable during the day, and hefty infestations can cause anemia or, in worse cases, the death of squabs.

Roundworms

When doves ingest any nematode, they may suffer from ringworm infection, which causes cough, fever, restlessness, disturbed sleep, vomiting, wheezing, and malnutrition.

Tapeworms

These parasites alter the dove bird’s organ function and affect their stomachs. You can prevent this by deworming your birds regularly, but infected birds need medicine that can be given orally or through injection.

Canker

This respiratory disease caused by Trichomonas gallinae can be fatal if not treated. You’ll know if your dove is infected when there’s swelling in its throat and cheesy-looking growth around its mouth.

Aside from these health issues, doves may also spread bacteria such as Chlamydia and Salmonella to people. So, those handling and raising doves need to wash hands after handling, feeding, or cleaning the bird’s house.

doves eating on the ground

Common Questions About Dove Birds

What is unique about the dove bird?

Many religions and cultures consider the dove a symbol of peace. For example, the Christian faith uses it as a symbol of God, while other cultures release doves into the sky during weddings, ceremonies, and other important events.

Are doves a good bird to have around?

Doves are romantic and loving and will even help clean up beneath seed feeders. These creatures are docile with affectionate personalities.

That’s why they like to interact with people and be fed. Their gentle and lovely nature earned them the title “bird of peace.”

How smart are doves?

Doves aren’t as intelligent as parrots like African Greys and Macaws, but they rank higher in terms of intelligence when compared to most vertebrates. Some variations like the Java dove can even learn simple tricks and work!

Are doves friendly?

Yes, doves are friendly, docile, and sweet birds, so being the symbol of peace is so fitting for them. They can be gentle and warm, but they also have a shy demeanor.

But some types also have aggressive tendencies, especially during the breeding season.

Are doves just white pigeons?

No, doves and pigeons can have white, black, green, and mottled gray variations depending on their species. But generally, they both belong to the Columbidae family of birds.

They share several features, but they vary in size and plumage.

What attracts doves to your yard?

You can attract dive birds by putting an open platform feeder or ground feeder or scattering seeds or their favorite food across your yard’s ground.

They can eat sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and shelled peanuts, but they prefer wild grass, grains, and ragweed more.

Are doves afraid of humans?

Most birds are afraid of humans, and Mourning doves can be wary too and may spook easily. But others who are used to interacting with humans in urban places may be less scared and more trusting.

Do doves bite?

Most doves won’t bite or peck, but terrified ones will slap you with their wings. Male ones can also be aggressive when defending their territory against predators or enemies.

How long do dove birds live?

The average lifespan of thee birds like Mourning Doves is 1.5 years. Unfortunately, more than 75% of doves die before turning one year old. But others can live as long as five years because their chance of survival increases when they survive their first year.

Are doves rare?

Doves are abundant on earth. For example, hunters harvest over 20 million Mourning Doves per year, but the species remain unshaken, with a massive population of 350 million in the US.

Other species like Rapa fruit dove, brown-backed dove, and wetar ground-dove are decreasing, but many are stable.

How many types of dove birds are there?

There are 12 species of doves and pigeons in the USA and Canada, but the Columbidae family has a total of 344 species under its umbrella. One of the most widespread dove types in America is the mourning dove.

Hunters harvest around 20 million per year, but it remains abundant with a population of 350 million.

Dove Birds: Conclusive Thoughts

Dove birds are gentle and loving. That’s why carrying the symbol of peace is so fitting for them.

They’re less demanding and low-maintenance than parrots. So, having a dove bird as pet is the right choice if you want a friendly and quite feathery companion rather than a parrot or any large species.

They’re also available in bright colors such as yellow-breasted and orange fruit dove.

But even though they’re intelligent, they cant talk nor mimic human words. If that’s one of your criteria for a potential pet bird, then this next brilliant species may be the perfect one for you.

READ NEXT: Budgerigars – Everything You Need to Know

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