Selecting a Dove

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Doves come in many colors and varieties. When selecting a dove to purchase, the dove should be alert with  clear eyes, smooth & clean feathers, clean feet and clear nasal openings.  Doves can be found at local pet stores, local breeders, flea markets, county fairs, in the local classifieds or at county animal shelters. Sometimes, local zoos will sell their doves when they become too numerous.  

Problems to look for:  

  • yellow patches inside the back of the mouth (serious ailment)

  • Unusually Dirty vent feathers

  • rubbing eyes, eye discharge, cloudy or injured eyes

  • nasal drainage

  • unhealthy or malformed feet

  • injuries

  • limping

  • fluffed, ruffled or unkempt feathers

  • Continual Squatting

  • open mouth breathing (a very bad sign)

Most health problems can be treated by an avian vet, but be prepared for the cost of lab tests, medicines and special feeding you may need to administer. It is an excellent idea to have any new pet examined by a qualified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine which specializes in the type of pet you have selected. 


Be sure to have your new pet checked out before intermixing it with other birds at home. It should be kept isolated from other birds until its health condition can be verified. Some diseases can wipe out an entire aviary in a matter of days.


Never release doves:

Never turn a ringneck or white dove loose outside or release them into the wild even if you originally found it outside. Ringneck and white doves do not survive well in the wild. These breeds are not wild birds and do not have survival instincts to protect themselves, find food nor tolerate the weather. They will not live long. White and light colored doves will likely die in less than a week because they are easily spotted by hawks and cats against the dark green grass and trees. Hawks will kill them in residential and city areas. You may not notice hawks near your home, but they are out there just like the buzzards. Doves do not return like homing pigeons and should never be used for releases. Only professionally trained homing pigeons should be used for Weddings and similar events.... however, I don't recommend any type of release since even the trained white homing pigeons are targets of hawks and some are killed before they make it back home. Having birds die for the sake of a wedding ceremony is not something that will bring good luck or harmony to the couple.


Finding a Lost Dove:

If you have a dove coming to your home trying to get in, it may be lost or ill. Or it may be a ringneck or white dove which someone released, needing a  good home so they won't end up dying in the wild where they do not have the instincts to survive. Ringneck and white doves are all captivity bred dove breeds. Being released in the wild is a death sentence so if the dove finds you, they are looking for a human to rescue them.


The easiest way to catch them is by offering them a trail of food (bread or seeds) into the doorway or cage where you can pull on a string and drop the door closed behind them as they enter. Even easier if it is dark when they cannot see to fly.  It is a good idea  to have the bird checked for diseases if you are not an expert on bird ailments however, keep in mind that there is always some busybody on every corner ready to interfere by giving you bad advice by trying to scare you into not keeping the dove or trying to get you to take the dove to the humane society, zoo, or wildlife refuge (see below).  Doves are not migratory birds and the federal migratory rules do not apply so ignore anyone who tries to scare you with statutes they know nothing about. Most people giving you bad advice like that would think nothing of hunting and shooting a dove. If they cared about the dove's welfare, they would not be trying to get you to get rid of it. Most people have been taught inaccurate old wives tales about birds... such as not touching a fallen baby... etc. Your touching the baby will not cause the parent to abandon it. If the parent has abandoned the baby, then it was not because you picked it up and put it in the nest. You can watch from a distance  to see if the parent returns. If the parent does not return in a couple hours, you can make preparations to feed and care for the baby.


The Ringnecks and white doves found outside are less likely to acquire these diseases in the wild because they do not usually mate or come into close contact with the wild doves. Doves and other birds can sometimes be injured by a cat or a BB gun and you may not be able to see the injuries under the feathers. Birds usually hide their injuries to avoid getting killed by predators. There are also some terrible diseases that can be transferred to a human, so please do not put your mouth on the doves bill. Feather parasites are not a problem. They can be easily removed and do not usually live on humans. But parasites in the doves throat can be transmitted to humans and are deadly to the dove. Dove babies usually only survive about 10 days with some of these ailments. 


Finding a new home for your Dove:

Do not take your doves to the humane society. They usually don't know what to do with them, nor are they equipped to take care of them and will likely end up destroying them like they do with other surplus pets. A zoo will not likely take any doves nor will they want to take a chance on their flock's health by adding a new dove from outside. If you have to give up your dove, try wildlife and bird rescue organizations for wild mourning doves but do not give them ringneck and white doves because those doves should never be released and those types of organizations are focused on bird releases. A local sanctuary might be a better choice.


..... or even more simple, there are probably plenty of children at the local schools who would love to have a dove for a pet. Put up a sign or place an ad to give it away. You can also talk to your local pet stores like Petsmart and Petco.... even the local vets might have notice boards where you can put up a note. Or put up a notice on a website... and have a little patience. Doves only cost about $25 or less when you buy them from a store so the easiest way to find a home for your dove is to offer it FREE to a GOOD home.


The blond dove shown on this page is a dove found by a local resident who cared enough to give the dove to a good home rather than turn him loose. As you can see, he is a beauty and is happily living at my home with his new mate and new baby.


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