Doves are found in almost every part of the world, and there are hundreds of dove species in existence. However, only a handful of doves are commonly available as pets, with the diamond dove and the ring-necked dove as the most popular pet dove species. Doves are ideal for someone who wants a bird, but cannot accommodate the needs of a parrot (noise, one-on-one social interaction). There interactions are fun to watch and some consider their cooing pleasant.


Native Region / Natural Habitat

Doves are found in every part of the world; the exception being the Antarctic. The popular diamond dove is native to Australia, and the equally popular ring-necked dove is native to Africa. Doves and pigeons occur worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Southeast Asia and Australasia.  


Care & Feeding

Doves have different housing needs than parrots. Doves are unable to climb up the cage bars like parrots ca; instead they move about by flying back and forth, which makes a wide cage an important feature. Offer a variety of perch styles and of varying diameters, which will help promote good foot health in your dove. Doves also need opportunities for bathing. Doves, unlike parrots, need grit in their diet because they eat their seeds whole. Provide several types of grit, as well as a calcium supplement, especially during breeding. Though it is tempting to breed these birds year-round, doing so will leave the birds in an exhausted and weakened state. Most aviculturists advise resting them for a few months after every two or three clutches. When well cared-for, ring-necked doves can live for more than ten years.


Personality & Behavior

Doves, for the most part, are hands-off pets. Forcing interaction can result in terrifying the bird, or worse, causing a broken wing. Some doves, however, can be hand-tamed. Doves are quite social with others of their kind and they can be accustomed to taking food from your hand. With a dove, you want have to worry about “the big, bad bite” a parrot might be capable of.


Speech & Sound

If you opt to keep doves be prepared for constant cooing. While they cannot screech like a parrot, their cooing is fairly constant. Some people enjoy the pigeon’s coo and find it relaxing; others, however,  might not enjoy the constant cooing sound.


Health & Common Conditions

Doves are susceptible to red mites, which hide during the day and come out at night to feed on the bird’s blood, and doves housed outdoors are susceptible to roundworms, tapeworms and other worm species. Canker, a respiratory disease that shows as a swelling in the dove’s throat and a cheesy looking  growth around the mouth, can be fatal if not treated. Those who keep pigeons should wash their hands after handling, feeding or cleaning the dove’s housing because doves can transfer Chlamydia and Salmonella (bacterial infections) to people. Overall, doves are generally healthy birds.


Get a Dove

While there are many varieties of doves in existence, only a handful are commonly kept as pets. Diamond doves and ring-necked doves are the two dove species most likely to offered for sale in large pet stores, as well as avian-specialty stores and from bird breeders, who are more likely to offer more types of dove species.  

Characteristics Of Doves


Which Birds Make Their Nests on the Ground?

Doves are small, stocky birds belonging to the pigeon family and are known for their low, soft cooing. Some, like the mourning dove are native to the United States, whereas others, such as the white-winged dove, were introduced by human settlers. Each species of dove has its own unique characteristics, but collectively they share several traits in regard to appearance, mating and feeding behavior.

Physical Appearance

Whether a common ground dove or an exotic Inca, all doves have relatively small heads in comparison to their bodies and small, narrow bills. They have short legs and walk as if their feet are tender which causes their heads to bob back and forth. These birds have fairly long tails with distinct color patterns that are useful in identifying the various species. A half dozen species of doves are common to North America; there are 35 recognized colors of the Ringneck Dove alone. Most common colors are shades of gray, white, brown and peach. Doves are known for their powerful, precise flight patterns and the whirling sound created by their wings; mourning doves can reach speeds up to 55 miles per hour.

Feeding and Habitat

Birds need water to survive and doves have the uncanny ability to drink water without raising their head. They feed primarily on grass and grain seeds, with the common ground dove taking in over 2,500 seeds per day to meet its high caloric demands. Doves forage for seed by walking and pecking at the ground, but most won’t move leaves or litter to find seeds. Some species also eat fruits, and white-winged doves even eat snails for calcium and small pebbles to grind plant material in their gizzards. Doves live in open woodlands, urban areas and some species take up residence in dense forests. They are regularly seen perched on power lines and in tree branches.



Raising a Family

Male and female doves work together to build loosely-made nests, usually in the spring, out of grass stems, twigs, moss and pine needles. Nests range in size from three eight inches across and are built on horizontal branches, man-made structures such as gutters or on the ground. Doves can produce multiple clutches in one breeding season, and will reuse nests to raise the young. They also use nests abandoned by other bird species. Mothers and fathers take turns incubating the eggs, a process that takes two to three weeks. When the young are born, their parents feed them crop milk, a secretion that both males and females form in their esophagus.


Some dove species migrate south during cold winter months. Mourning doves, residents of all of the United States except for Hawaii, migrate to southern states and even as far south as Mexico. The common ground dove only migrates a short distance southward, if at all, whereas the white-winged dove either stays put or migrates south, east or toward the west.