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Crested Pigeon

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Is the Crested Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Australian Crested Pigeon; Australian Crested Dove; Crested Bronzewing

Scientific name: Ocyphaps lophotes

The basics:
The successful and hardy Crested Pigeon is an abundant species comprising two subspecies that are found in the dry grasslands of Australia, as well as on lands cleared by humans for purposes ranging from anything from golf courses to gardens. In their native land, the wild birds can be extremely bold about nesting close to human homes, allowing people to easily observe the male's entertaining courtship dance.

An older work of aviculture claims that the English and French have kept the birds “at liberty,” but if the practice was ever particularly successful, it's questionable whether it should be tried today. England is currently enjoying a return of its bird of prey species, which makes asking the Crested Pigeon fend for itself on the manor grounds an extremely risky proposition.

Appearance:
The Crested Pigeon is an endemic Australian species that catches the eye with its extremely long, black-tipped crest. The males might have a bit more metallic flash in the secondary wing feathers, but the sexes are similar, and you will likely have to sex the birds by behavior or DNA.

Weight:
205 grams (7.2 oz.)

Average size:
31 - 35 centimeters (12.2 - 13.8 in.)

Lifespan:
10 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Someone may occasionally encounter an individual or pair that is more feisty than average, but most Crested Pigeons are admired for their agreeable personalities, combined with a higher level of activity than you might see from some other exotic doves. Don't interfere with their nesting efforts, or they may abandon the attempt.

Housing:
Single Crested Pigeons have been kept successfully as pets, but they should not be isolated, and they will want to spend a lot of time with you. Have a large cage in a prominent position in the house, where your pet can be involved in the family's activities. They spend a lot of time on the ground, so watch your feet if your pet is out and about. They can learn to come to your hand or shoulder.

Pairs can make wonderful aviary birds as long as the Crested Pigeons are given sufficient room. In very large walk-in aviaries at least one breeder reports that he has kept them successfully with smaller, non-competing doves, but do not crowd them. One pair of Crested Pigeons should have a flight of at least 6 feet square – and a mixed species aviary should be larger. They are hardy, but they love the sun, so do have protection from the cold and damp. Predators think doves are very tasty, so secure your aviary against predators and accidental escapes.

Diet:
The hardy Crested Pigeon does fine on a simple diet similar to that offered to the Ring-necked Doves. Try a good quality finch, parakeet (budgerigar), and/or commerical dove seed mix but you should add some safflower seed, small game bird or quail pellets, millet sprays, eggfood, and greens like chickweed and sprouted millet sprays. All doves should have access to clean grit. They may bathe in water, so supply a shallow pan of bathing water as well as drinking water. These sun-loving birds may require vitamin D3 added to the diet if kept indoors, since this vitamin is normally formed in the body in response to sunlight. Ask your breeder or avian vet for a recommendation.

Written by Elaine Radford

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