- Good for novice owners
- Best in pairs and small groups
- Small-medium size
- Medium activity level
- Medium trainability
- High sociability with people
Doves and pigeons are the same species and two names are used interchangeably for both birds. Pigeons and doves are almost identical in temperament and appearance, but pigeons are usually larger. Pigeons and doves have been domesticated for several thousand years. They are versatile birds that have filled many roles over the years from being raised for meat, trained as messengers and racing birds, beloved pets, sacrifices for the ancient Gods, used for scientific experiments, trained for use in magic shows and used in weddings.
Pigeons and doves are found throughout most of the world, everywhere but the Polar Regions. There are over 300 different types of pigeons and doves, the majority are wild birds, but a few breeds have been tamed and domesticated. The Diamond Dove and the Ringneck Dove are the two most popular domestic doves. The common pigeon seen at most parks is known as Rock doves.
Pigeons and doves make surprisingly delightful pets. They are quiet, easy to maintain and very gentle and good-natured. They are an excellent choice for the novice bird owner and make a good pet for older children. However, pigeons and doves are not birds that will sit on your shoulder, squawk witty phrases or do amazing tricks.
When raised with love and caring, pigeons and doves are very loyal and affectionate. They enjoy being petted and gently cuddled. They have quiet sweet sounding voices that most people find calming and enjoyable. They enjoy human contact and are fairly easy to tame and train. They are generally calm placid birds, but tend to startle easily. They are peaceful gentle birds that are not given to aggression; only biting or scratching in severe cases.
Doves and pigeons require a large cage. Their cage should be big enough for them to fully stretch out and flap their wings. In addition, their cage should be large enough for their water and food bowls to be placed on the ground with no fear of them being constantly knocked over. Unlike most other pet birds that require a tall narrow cage, pigeons and doves require a cage that is long and wide so they have lots of ground room,. However, it should still be tall enough that a perch or two can be put in. Pigeons and doves can be kept inside as house pets or during warmer weather outside; they should not be left out during the winter months. Their cage should be kept out of direct sun and drafts.
Pigeons and doves are low maintenance birds, but they do require daily feeding and watering, regular cage cleanings and daily exercise. They can be allowed to fly both inside or out, however both options have there disadvantages. Allowing the bird to fly inside does not offer the exercise an outdoor flight allows and can be quite messy due to their droppings. Allowing them to fly outside can be dangerous due to predatory birds, cats, hunters, hydro wires and cars.
Appearance and Care:
Pigeons and doves come in a large variety of sizes, they range from as large as the average game fowl to as small as a sparrow. They are not brightly coloured birds, but comes in beautiful pure white and light shades of blue, grey and brown.
Like all birds, they require regular bathing to help keep them clean. They should be provided with a 2-3 inches of warm water in a swallow basin to bathe in. Some birds do not enjoy bathing and prefer a shower; they should be misted with warm water. After bathing, pigeons and doves should be allowed to sun and preen themselves.
If their claws become sharp, they can be gently dulled with a few strokes from an emery board.
Health and Diet:
Pigeons and doves are generally hardy birds with an average life span of 10-12 years. They are susceptible to pigeon pox, internal parasites, ticks, mites, salmonella and parrot fever. At the first sign of illness, owners should take their bird to the veterinarian. A sick dove or pigeon will shows signs of lethargy, closed eyes, runny or slimy dropping, titling their head to one side and abnormal quietness.
Pigeons and doves eat a variety of seeds and greens. They usually enjoy spinach, lettuce, clover and similar greens, and enjoy a wild birdseed mix, a canary mix or a seed mix made especially for doves. They can also be given small mealworms, millet seed sprays or whole wheat bread as an occasional treat. They also need a cuttlefish for calcium and should be given grit to aid in digestion. They should be given fresh water daily and their seed dish should be cleaned out of discarded seed husks and refilled each day. Birds that are housed outside will often eat weeds like dandelions and ragweed.