Dove Colors and Genetics

Genetics of the Ringneck Dove.
I. Overview |  II. Albino |  III. Ivory |  IV. Pied |  V. Rosy |  VI. Dark-Blond-White

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GENETICS OF THE RINGNECK DOVE, Streptopelia risoria


I. Overview
by
Wilmer J. Miller
Adapted from American Dove Association Newsletter (ADAN) May-Jun 1984

Many bird fanciers shy away from genetics, thinking it is too complicated. Any subject turns out to be complicated; but some people learn to be comfortable with portions. Occasional additions then are more palatable. It's the same with genetics. Like any topic it can be presented in more than one way. For ringneck genetics one way is a series, so you won't get too big a bite at any one time. Lets start with colors, since color is what most people have and interest in.

A standard of reference is important. I choose to use the wild type = standard type = "normal" which is dark color. This is the color found in S. semitorquata, or S. decaocto, or S. roseogrisea, the ancestor of our domestic ringneck.

Dark collared doves have a deep red eye, if they are kept outdoors subject to the solar radiation, or even if they are kept indoors and subjected to ultra violet light. Eyes of blond doves are also red, barely a shade lighter? Indoors the eye is a bit lighter red.

Plumage of the dark dove may be described as dark gray, Evidently, no one has investigated the pigments involved in doves. However, very likely two types are involved in the plumage and eye color -- the eumelanin, black-browns, and phaeomelanin, red-yellows. These are very widespread among most all vertebrates.

The gray plumage of dark doves becomes blackish in the neck ring, in the flight feathers and in the tail bar. Likely, the phaeomelanin is missing there. This notion is supported by the orange mutant (see Miller and Munsell, p. 5 Nov/Dec ADAN, 1985 issue), The tips of the tail feathers, especially toward the side (less in the middle ones) become whitish with no melanin or very little present. Juvenile dark doves and even blonds show a buff edge lacing that is most noticable in the wing shield coverts. This is lost in the adult plumage. A whitish trailing edge to some flight and secondary wing feathers is also seen. For a fuller description see Goodwin, D., 1977, "Pigeons and Doves of the World."

To reiterate, the wild color in the collared dove is gray from the mixture of various amounts of eumelanin and phaeomelanin. All the color varieties are mutant forms of various alterations, patterns, dilutions, and/or blocking of one or the other of these pigments. A diagram of the biochemical synthetic pathway could show where an early block of the path by an abberrant or missing enzyme such as tyrosine hydroxylase will result in albino. Dove and pigeon albinos might be a result of a second block, since the first is involved also in the adrenaline pathway.

A summary of the basic single color mutants and some of their combinational interactions are shown in the following figure.

 

Dove Colors and Genetics

Genetics of the Ringneck Dove.
I. Overview |  II. Albino |  III. Ivory |  IV. Pied |  V. Rosy |  VI. Dark-Blond-White

Return to Wilmer's Main Page