Doves are marvelous birds and a species of pigeon; although doves are a bit smaller in size than pigeons who are heavier, stockier in stature and have more rounded tail feathers; doves will have more pointed tail feathers. While greatly varied in coloring, wild “Rock doves”, are one of the more colorful species of doves and “Wild Rock doves” generally have two black bars on each of their wings and will often be a lighter gray in coloring while some will have a greenish iridescence around the neck. As with most bird species, the Male will be more vibrant in coloring with a darker beak than the female.
“Rock doves”, (Columbia livia), are usually those that you see in inner cities, with lots of buildings and are also known as, “urban doves”. They are a species of homing pigeons, are people friendly, gentle and very charming, they make good pets and have a nice, soothing sound to their voice. Most of the time, they are referred to as, “pigeons”; indeed, the name, “Rock dove” is the original name for these birds.
They like to eat mostly seeds, but being more “urban” birds, will eat popcorn, peanuts, breads and crackers.
“Wild Rock doves” like to build their nests in shrubby areas, cliffs, bridges, skyscrapers, even on decks and patios, sometimes nesting in large deck planters and pots.
Like other species of doves, they mate for life, with both the male and female caring for the young ones.
Bred for centuries as homing pets, they have been known to fly up to 600 miles to get home. They should not be confused with the “Ringneck doves”.
They like the open and semi-open environments and cliff areas where they like to nest and breed. Once found in North Africa, Asia and around Europe and North America; these have migrated to places throughout the world, as far as Canada and even Hawaii.
Domestic “Ringneck doves”, (Streptopelia risoria), a cross between the doves of old times and the wild “Ringneck doves”, are the most kept “pet” doves, in the world and have been so for nearly 2000 years.
They have up to 40 variations of coloring, from beige pink to a pure white coloring while the wild ones may have grey or brown feathers with a distinct ring or collar around the neck, made of black feathers and going against the grain of the other feathers. The white colorings often have a white color or ring of feathers going against the grain of the white colorings on the other feathers. The “Ringneck doves” can get up to 10-12 inches in length from beak to tail and can have up to a 15” wingspan.
These doves have a variety of coo’ing sounds that they use to communicate. The soothing coo’s, make them a great bird to attract to your yard. The varied tones and inflections all have different meanings and if you observe them closely, you can learn to distinguish a happy coo from a frantic coo warning of danger.
They can be kept in cages, but should be allowed out of the cage daily for indoor exercise. They are not blessed with the instinct of homing pigeons, so if they are let out of doors, you may not see them again. They are very friendly, easy to tame and very little maintenance.
As pets, they should be trained with a great deal of patience. They have been known to bash their bodies against the side of cages when frightened and can harm themselves, so training them to trust you should consist of slow, patient movements. Never push or force a bird to come when it raises a wing and backs away from you. Trust is earned, never forced.
As pets, they’ll enjoy various seeds, grasses, greens, whole wheat bread, boiled egg yolks, even meal worms and cuttlebones are welcome.
White “Ringneck doves” are often used for dove releases, at weddings, openings of new businesses, etc. They can be bought at pet stores for around $20.00. They are also used in many magic shows.