Acquired: Bred bird myself
Posted Mar 22, 2013
I have had the privilege of owning and raising ring-neck doves for the past 6 years. My first experience with a ring-neck dove came through my Grandma Marie. She owned a male ring-neck for many years and my siblings and I loved watching him fly around the house and take a bath. These are fairly non-messy birds in terms of droppings. The droppings are usually hard and easy to clean up. They do like to toss seeds however, and as all other birds, they molt as well, and depending on the bedding you use (I use shavings), regular sweeping and/or vacuuming will be necessary.
Their coo is one of my favourite things about this bird. It is very calming and lovely. The males and unpaired females can be quite vocal, especially first thing in the morning or when they hear people talking or any other noises. They have several different sounds, including a laughing noise.
I would recommend this bird for young children, however, as with any animal, children should be supervised. Also, take care to be sure you have a safe environment for the bird. If you let your birds out of the cage, (and they should be allowed to exercise) be sure they cannot hurt themselves, (hitting windows, landing on anything dangerous. etc.)
Doves do better in cages that are wider rather than tall, as unlike parrots, they do not climb. Provide your doves with roosts of varying thickness, (natural tree branches work wonderfully) and keep your doves in a room with good temperature control and away from any drafts. They can deal with colder temperatures, but need to be gradually acclimatized to them if you do choose to keep them somewhere cooler. They must be kept out of the wind when it's cold.
Doves DO NOT have a homing instinct. Unlike pigeons, if they are released or end up outside, they will not be able to find their way home. So, please take care that your doves are kept securely in their pen/cage or in the house.
Doves enjoy seeds as well as fruits and vegetables. Mine love tomatoes, cucumbers, apples and celery greens. Having a varied diet is always a good idea, though at times Ringo in particular does decide to be picky with what he eats. Please be sure to provide your doves with grit as well. Doves do not shell the seeds, but eat them whole, and because of this they need bird gravel to help them digest their food.
Also, as with other birds, please be aware that doves are very sensitive to cleaning products, scented candles, air fresheners and the fumes given off by non-stick cookware. These chemicals can make birds very sick or even kill them. So, if you decide to have them as pets, you'll need to make some lifestyle changes. To me it's well worth the sacrifice, and I often say they help ME to be healthier. :)
If you have the opportunity to let a pair of doves hatch and raise babies, it is a wonderful experience. The parents take turns sitting on the nest, though the female typically does most of the setting and is usually always the one to set during the night. When I hatched my two doves however, there was the odd night that the male (Sage) would sit there with the female (Saffron) until quite late or even through the night, but this was not usual. The female will usually lay two eggs and a pair typically has two squabs at one time. Both parents feed the baby by allowing it to put it's beak in their mouth and regurgitating food (called crop milk). It truly is an amazing process to see. When mine were hatched, I left them with their parents for approximately one month. They will then start to eat and drink on their own. Also, don't be alarmed if after awhile you start seeing dark shapes under the squab's skin (in their crop), because the parents will eventually regurgitate whole seeds for the baby. The babies grow quickly and will soon be all feathered out, it is an amazing experience. :)
Doves are poor nest builders, though if given shavings or straw for bedding, they will often pick pieces up and bring them over to the nest area. It's really cute when the males do this and bring straw or a shaving over to the female. I recommend taking a shallow dish large enough for the parents to sit in and filling it with the bedding you use. I placed mine on the floor of the cage away from the roosts so that it wouldn't become dirty with droppings. This way the egg will not fall out and neither will the babies once they hatch.
Also, doves require regular bathing, and it is so much fun to watch them take a bath. I use one of those big margarine containers for mine. Make sure the water is not too cold or too warm. If a dove wants to bathe, they'll often start playing in their water dish. Mine do this sometimes to tell me it's time to let them have a bath. :) Doves also like to sunbathe, and if you place them in the sunshine, they will stretch out one wing and sit there happily. :)
For the most part doves are very quiet and are not easily frightened. (Of course they are even less likely to be nervous with regular handling, especially from a young age). However,some males can be a bit more aggressive toward females or other males. Just be sure you watch carefully and separate any birds that do not get along.
These are truly lovely and calm birds, and I would recommend them to anyone. If handled regularly as babies they will be very friendly, and will even follow people around the house. They are easy to care for and a joy to have.
If you'd like to see more photos of Ringo, or my other doves, please visit my website at: www.emphotography.moonfruit.com