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Green-winged Dove

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Is the Green-winged Dove right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Common Emerald Dove;Green-winged Pigeon; Green-backed Dove; Green Dove; Little Green Pigeon

Scientific name: Chalcophaps indica

The basics:
The Green-winged Dove is a “wow” species that stands out because of its bright green wings. They are popular cage-birds in Asia, but they aren't really recommended to the beginner. Their diet, housing, and personality presents some challenges, and it seems wise to get experience with some of the easier pigeon species first.

Depending on which report you believe, there could be anywhere from 8 to 11 subspecies of the widespread, successful Green-winged Dove. As a deep forest dove, it may not be encountered as frequently as a bold dove of the towns or grasslands, but it's out there. Some people say the wild birds are more commonly heard than seen. Their huge range includes the Indian subcontinent, a large area of southern and southeast Asia, island nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan, coastal areas of northern and eastern Australia, and more.

Appearance:
The Green-winged Dove is well-named for its emerald wings. Male birds also possess bright white shoulder patches. There may be as many as 11 subspecies, so your bird may not exactly match a bird you see in another aviary or in a photograph. Some subspecies may possess a green back as well as the green wings, while others do not.

Weight:
110 - 160 grams ( 4 - 5.5 oz.)

Average size:
26 centimeters (10 in.)

Lifespan:
10 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Green-winged Dove is gentle and even timid. Aviary birds may never be thrilled about your approaching them too closely, and they will feel safer if they can retreat into private areas such as thick bush. However, at least one zoo reports that they will learn to accept visitors into the mixed-species aviary. They don't want to be chased or held, but they are happy to be admired. Don't interfere with their nesting efforts by checking the nest, or they may abandon the project.

As with many other exotic doves, it's one pair to the aviary for the Green-winged Dove. They are gentle with non-competing species, but they don't wish to share space with rivals of their own kind. Males could fight and harm each other as they battle over the territory. They are considered solitary birds, not flock animals.

Housing:
The splendid but somewhat bashful Green-winged Dove is a fine choice for the large, well-planted mixed-species aviary with plenty of space for the birds to explore on the ground and in rather thick bushes. A minimum of 10 square feet of floor space is suggested for your pair, but a mixed-species aviary could be much larger. Some experts have not observed their birds to use a bird bath, and they recommend that a mister be installed in the aviary. Green-winged Doves are a tasty prey item, and you must build and maintain your aviary to keep out even the most determined predators, such as rodents. They are also a warmth-loving species, so you will need to be able to provide a snug, climate-controlled area in the winter months.

Diet:
As a ground-feeding dove of the deep forest, the Green-winged Dove requires more than a simple commercial dove seed mix. Of course, the backbone of the diet is a high quality seed mix, but you should also supply chopped fresh seasonal fruit and a chopped green salad containing such items as broccoli florets, chickweed, peas, and more.

They also require some live insects, including such treats as mealworms, waxworms, and/or crickets. While you may not offer the insects year round, you should definitely add them when you're ready for your pair to breed. A breeder who was frustrated by his pair's refusal to accept mealworms was able to provide sufficient fat and protein for nesting by offering chopped cheese, so that's an option as well. In a mixed-species aviary, you need to take care that the Green-winged Doves are actually getting their share of any insects you provide. If the birds are too shy to take insects from your hand, you may need to install multiple feeding stations to give these gentle birds a fair shot at the goodies.

All doves require access to clean grit and clean drinking water, and you may also wish to offer a separate shallow pan of bath water. Ask your breeder or avian vet about whether or not vitamin D3 or calcium should be supplied.

Written by Elaine Radford

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