Gender Determination

Egg Count Pelvic Cavity Size Behavior Veterinarian


Click on any photo to enlarge

Sexing Doves is very difficult. There are all kinds of methods listed in books and on other websites which I have not found very  helpful. The following suggestions are the best methods of determining sex.. 

Method #2 is the most reliable method of sexing a Dove without medical tests

Method #1 - EGG COUNT


If you have two Doves and you end up with 4 eggs, then you have two females. If an entire mating season goes by without any eggs from mature adult Doves, then there is a good chance you may have two males. This is not always the case. There are other reasons why you may not see eggs. Not enough calcium and grit would be one reason. Castration another.

Method #2 - Pelvic Cavity Size


This is the most accurate method but takes some comparative practice to master. It will work on sexing adult and juvenile doves. A Dove egg is very large. About the size of a Pecan Shell.  A female Dove has to be large enough in the pelvic area to pass the egg.... Keeping in mind that the female dilates and expands when passing the egg and when she lays her first egg, she is not as large as successive egg layings. 


Between a male and female, there is a difference in the indentation behind the cloaca if you press very lightly on it between the pelvic bones with your thumb (taking care not to injure the dove or break any egg she may be carrying) you should be able to feel a cavity about the width of a human female thumb which indents slightly when pressed. The muscles and bone structures in a female have a wider opening cavity while the male tends to have tighter muscles and a much smaller cavity....less than half of a female.  The male dove is usually physically too small for an egg that large to pass which you can feel  by the smaller space between the pelvic bone opening as you press your thumb. 


Often, the exterior of the Cloaca can be visibly smaller on males as compared to females but that is not always the case. 

Method #3 - BEHAVIOR


There are more in-depth, details on dove behavior, mating and language in other sections of this website. 


Male Doves will perform a ritual called "Bow & Coo" during mating season. The bow and coo will be used toward intruding males and also intruding females who trespass in the male dove's territory. This is usually preceded by two laughs when the intruder is a male.


This looks very similar to one of those red glass mercury birds that dip the bill into a glass of water like a rocking horse. The male Doves will swell up their throat, stand completely erect, as high as possible up on their toes, often a two step dance with their feet and then a deep bow as they dip forward below the perch while cooing loudly the whole time. As they raise up you will hear a an odd gronking noise as they inhale another deep breath of air for the next dip. Some male doves will be more extreme than others. I have one dove that will bow down in the middle of his mate's back, raising and bowing, cooing loudly which looks like he is repeatedly stabbing her in the back with his bill. 


Birds will always do more cooing at Sunrise and Sunset. From what I have observed, the "Bow & Coo" performance is in reaction to the close proximity of other nearby males. A form of "Dove challenges." This ritual does not appear to appeal to the females. There is no sign of attraction to the male during his performance.    

Adult females rarely ever Bow and Coo. Out of 200 doves, I only have two females which has performed this behavior and even then it was 

1B&C1.JPG (29429 bytes)

1B&C2.JPG (35346 bytes)

1B&C3.JPG (31222 bytes)

Method #4 - Veterinarian


Your avian Vet should be able to tell you what sex your dove is. There are several methods that are available. I personally prefer not to use any method of sexing that involves surgery. Your veterinarian should be able to offer both non-surgical an

a rare, out of the ordinary action.


However, Juvenile doves often become confused as to proper behavior when they are growing up during their first 6 months and sometimes female juveniles may copy bow and cooing behavior from the adult males until they reach maturity and learn the ropes.

d surgical options.