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Have you always wanted a pet to be:
...unobtrusive yet interesting
...pleasant voiced, not too loud nor soft
...active, but not peripatetic
...interactive with humans, but not demanding
...colorful, although not flashy
...instructive, but not mysterious (good in the school room)
...easy to maintain in good health
...unique in many ways (used in magic acts)
...inexpensive to purchase and maintain
Children and adults can spend many hours fascinated with dove behavior. Watch them build a nest. Slip dry pine needles through the wire and the male will take it from your fingers to carry to the nest -- once he has leaned to trust you, which takes only a few weeks. The sexes will take turns sitting on the nest -- the male during the day, the female during the night. The eggs will hatch in 14 days. The squabs will be fed parental crop milk. Then about 16-20 days after hatching they will come off the nest and in a few days start to learn to eat by themselves, finally becoming independent about 4 weeks of age.
The male will bow-coo frequently in courtship at the beginning of each breeding cycle. The female will nest coo inviting him to carry sticks. They will give a "challenge" note to each other after mating - or to an intruder dove. They will stretch a foot and wing in leisurely peaceful perching. Many behavior traits will be noted.
Doves now come in many colors! At least 40 (mostly developed since 1940) are currently known. The soft tan, fawn or blond is most common. "Dark" gray is the wild type color. White reminds us of the dove of peace. But you may want peach or pied, tangerine or ivory, cream or albino! In the silky feather type one is reminded of the plumose ostrich feathers. Silky doves tame down faster than normal feathered birds. They will sit on your hand or finger or shoulder quietly after only 5 minutes of handling. But be gentle. Silky doves may even be put on the ground outside - so long as you stay with them and pick them up when you are through watching. Cats, hawks, raccoons and such predators would love to eat a tasty dove!
Many inherited mutant characters are known, from the various colors, to thin bill ring in babies, to agglutination of the red blood cells of some doves by peanut extract! The silky condition is a codominant - best maintained in backcrosses to normal mates. The blond and white are sex-linked recessive alternatives (alleles)., A white male mated to a blond female will have white daughters and blond sons in the "criss-cross" inheritance. Albino, ivory, pied and rosy are basic recessive characters. Frosty and tangerine are dominants or codominants. Many interaction colors are available such as black eye white, which is the combination of pied and white. You can have lots of fun crossing different colors of doves.
If you raise surplus young doves, your pet shop may buy them, or a friend may be interested.
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR DOVES!
SOME DOVE CULTURE INFORMATION
The DoveLine July/August 1999 p.13-14
While there are many species of doves (about 300), most people are interested in the ringneck doves, also known as the domestic, laughing dove, collared dove, Barbary dove, and turtle dove. It's scientific name is Streptopelia risoria. These are doves of the Bible; they are not native to the USA. In French they are tourterelle a' collier; in German they are lachtaube.
Transportation: A few doves together in a roomy paper bag or carton will be OK for short trips. No holes are needed,. But if they are to be in a cardboard box a long time, some narrow verticle slits and horizontal hand holds can be cut with a knife. Special shipping boxes for the Post Office can be purchased.
Behavior: Males caged together may fight. Sudden quick movements, strange objects, new loud sounds (bangs), and new or bright colors such as yellow, orange, and red may induce temporary panic. A stick can appear as a snake to them! [See reference below]
Holding: Holding a dove by its wings (vertical) can result in broken wings. Control the wings by covering the shoulders with your hands with the dove's head toward your body ("2 handed" ) . For holding with one hand over the doves back, hook the little finger in front of the "far" wing and control the shoulders by 3 fingers along the shoulder and wing and the thumb over the near wing.
Feeding: Various grains such as wheat, milo or kaffir, rice, millet, cracked corn, vetch, chopped peanuts, safflower and little back sunflower (high in oil) can be given. There is less waste if these are not mixed. Don't overfeed! Extra feed on the ground may spoil and cause illness. Pigeon pellets or the smaller game-bird pellets (20% protein), or "crumbled" poultry feed, if reasonably fresh, are good for supplementing grain. The pellets will supply vitamins A and D3. The D3 is necessary if direct sun is not available, such as behind glass windows. Doves also like extra calcium (crushed eggshell, or oyster shell, or "granular F "). Granular livestock salt with trace elements such as iodine, cobalt, manganese, etc. is also useful. This extra mineral supplement is especially necessary if the doves are raising young. Deep green leaves are often desired by the doves, such as dandelion leaves, but they are not necessary if pellets are given. Be sure that the leaves have not had herbicide sprayed on.
Drinking:Doves drink water like pigeons in a continuous draught. Morning and evening drinks is minimal with young, but at liberty is much better.
Breeding: These doves like warm dry climate. Their original homeland was North Africa, Somalia, and Arabia. They are not migratory. With plenty of food they will breed most of the year. Two eggs are laid, about 1 and 1/2 days apart, and these should hatch in 2 weeks (14 days). Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the babies "pigeon milk" the first week. The babies (squabs) grow very fast and are able to fly when a month old. The parents usually have eggs again by then. The eggs can be handled, and after several (3-5) days of incubation they can be held against a light ("candling"). The eggs should show blood vessels and embryo, unless infertile. Older eggs will show "dark" and a clear air space. Infertile eggs will show rather clear but including a yellowish yolk. Young doves gradually molt their plumage before becoming mature at 5-7 months. Breeding doves gradually molt once a year, beginning in summer. But loose feathers can be found on the floor during the whole year.
Life Span: Doves can live several years; they are not considered old until about 5 years or more. One dove is on record as still producing young at 17 years of age!
Caging: The minimum size for a pair of doves is about 18 inches cube. They can just wing fan for exercise in this space. Of course, the bigger the better. While there are many styles in many materials, a 1" x 2" welded wire mesh even for the floor is often preferred. At least one perch should be higher than the nest. The nest can be a glued 2 1/4" x 4 x 6 inch cardboard box, or a variety of similar items.
References: Goodwin, D. 1977. Pigeons and Doves of the World. Cornell University Press pp. 446
Miller, W. J. and Lotus S. Miller. 1958. Synopsis of behaviour traits of the ring neck dove. Animal Behaviour 6:3-8.
Dove color genotypes phenotypes, Origins of ringnecks, Stubby dwarf ringnecks, Minerals, Mourning dove, Doves are delightful, Genetics of Ringnecks, Absence of Bill Ring, History of dove color,