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Eurasian Collared Dove

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Is the Eurasian Collared Dove right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Collared Dove

Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto

The basics:
The Eurasian Collared Dove, originally a bird of Asia and Eastern Europe, is probably one of the most successful birds of the modern era. It is difficult to think of any other bird, except the Cattle Egret, which has so explosively expanded its range since 1950, without causing any real trouble to anyone or being rated as an undesirable invasive species. It radiated across Western Europe in the mid 20th century, becoming a breeding bird in England in the 1950s.

Next, it hopped across the pond to North America, where one story says that a pet shop was burglarized in the Bahamas in the 1970s, allowing at least some birds to escape. By the 1990s, the invasion of North America was in full swing, and today this species can be easily seen in a variety of open habitats, including bird feeders, throughout the United States.

The Eurasian Collared Dove's success in conquering continents is not reflected by its popularity, or lack thereof, in aviculture. Although easy to care for, it was mostly overlooked in days gone by, because it was carelessly lumped in with other “ring-necked” species. Today, many a hobbyist can glance out a window and enjoy the bird without the trouble of setting up an aviary. You may be reading this article because you have obtained a rescue bird that is ineligible for care in a rehabilitation center, because it is an “introduced” species. Do ask your local wildlife officer and make sure you are in compliance with all state and local laws before taking any bird from the wild. Once you have the legalities out of the way, you may be surprised at how easy it is to care for this hardy species.

Appearance:
North Americans easily recognize the Eurasian Collared Dove because it is larger than the Mourning Dove, has the dark ring around the nape of the neck, and lacks the whistling wings. It's worth noting the straight-edged tail with a white band on the end, very different from the Mourning Dove's tapered tail.

Weight:
140 - 240 grams (5 - 8.5 oz)

Average size:
32 - 35 centimeters (12.6 - 13.8 in.)

Lifespan:
10 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
There is probably little or no reason to set up the Eurasian Collared Dove in a breeding aviary, since these birds have conquered the world without much if any help from us. However, a single pet or rescue bird should not be left neglected in a silent area without companionship. They want to be with their special someone, even if that someone is a human. If you cannot give your pet the attention it deserves, consider making it a part of a mixed species aviary where it can enjoy the parade of non-competing species around it.

Housing:
A Eurasian Collared Dove can make a splendid addition to the mixed species aviary, especially if there is some access to natural sunlight, coupled with a shelter to get away from the hot sun, cold, and damp. If you have two birds and don't wish to breed them, replace any eggs laid with artificial eggs, so that the female doesn't keep laying. It is possible to keep a colony of Eurasian Collared Doves, but if so, you need to provide them with plenty of room – at least 10 square feet per pair of doves. Remember, doves are gentle toward humans and toward non-competing species, not toward another dove that might challenge them for a mate.

In the very likely event that you only have a single rescue bird, you need to consider if you would like the bird to join the aviary or if you would like to maintain it as a single pet. Either way, be generous with the space, since these large birds must exercise by flying. Frequently provide a shallow bathing pan as well as the clean drinking water which should be in front of them at all times. Be patient and offer your Eurasian Collared Dove treats from the hand frequently. Let the bird be a part of the family. If it's an older bird who feels unsafe, place it higher so it can enjoy the show. Isolation is not natural to this species. Let the bird be a part of things.

Diet:
The Eurasian Collared Dove, once casually lumped in with the ring-necked pigeons, does just fine on a ring-necked pigeon diet. Choose a high quality commercial dove mix, although a wild bird seed mix will sustain life in a rescue emergency. One breeder suggests that wild bird seed mix plus safflower will do as the backbone of the diet. But you also need to provide some variety – chopped fruits and vegetables, greens, pellets (perhaps sprinkled with apple juice), and even access to a few live insects can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients. All doves need access to grit and calcium. An indoor dove's body may have trouble using the calcium because vitamin D3 is often formed from sunlight. Talk to your vet or breeder about vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Written by Elaine Radford

challenging

noise, dietary supplements, egglaying syndrome

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