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The Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) in the Wild and Captivity – Care Part 2

Click here to read the first part of The Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) In the Wild and Captivity.

Social Groups and Compatible Species
Diamond DovesDiamond Doves get along well with most finch species, including canaries, but only when housed in large outdoor aviaries or rooms within homes. They are intolerant of other dove species. Although gregarious in the wild, captives do best when kept in pairs as opposed to groups.

Captive Longevity
Average longevity is 12-14 years, with some birds reaching their late teens. The longevity record is in the neighborhood of 21 years.

Diamond Doves take well to gentle handling, and birds kept singly often bond strongly to their owners…in males this can lead to incessant “courting attempts”. Training should take place in a small room. The dove should be encouraged to perch on one’s finger via gentle pressure against the breast – never grab and place a bird on your hand.

These birds are quite sociable by nature – the interactions among wild flocks approach the levels exhibited by parrots. A single bird will do fine if allowed frequent contact (out of the cage) with its owner. Females make better single pets, as males kept alone tend to be noisy. If you are away for most of the day, then a pair of doves should be kept – birds left alone all day rarely fare well.

Diamond Doves breed readily in captivity, and a pair cannot fail to delight you with their mutual preening and other interactions. They communicate with a wide variety of “cooing” sounds, and separated pairs emit a unique distress call until re-united.

Diamond Doves, especially captive-produced color strains, can be difficult to sex by appearance. Courting behavior is often more reliable. In general, naturally-colored males tend towards silver-gray in coloration, while females appear more brown-gray. The orange-red eye ring of the adult male measures 2-3 mm in width, while that of the females is 1 mm….surprisingly, this slight size difference is noticeable among birds perched closely together.

Diamond Doves lay 2 eggs, usually 1 day apart. Males incubate by day and females by night, but sometimes both share the nest. The eggs hatch in 13-15 days, and the nestlings fledge at day 12-15. Be sure to leave the young with their parents for at least 2 weeks after fledging, as they are fed “pigeon milk” during this period and only gradually learn to take seeds.

Basket nests are readily accepted. Doves do not build much of a nest, but be sure to provide a variety of straw and dried grass – some can be very picky as to nest material size and thickness!


You can read about some Diamond Dove relatives that are also kept as pets at:

Image referenced from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Golabek_diamentowy.jpg. Author M. Betley, under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) in the Wild and Captivity – Care Part I

Diamond DovesGeneral
This charming, canary-sized bird is an ideal choice for those drawn to doves but unable to meet the space requirements of Ring-Necks and other larger species.  Both wild and captive-bred strains are beautifully colored and possess a wide range of pleasing calls.  Diamond Doves tame easily and make responsive and affectionate pets, often bonding quite strongly to their owners.

Please see Diamond Dove Natural History for more information on these fascinating birds.

Enclosure and Physical Environment
Provide your doves with as much room as possible – the minimum cage size for a pair would be along the lines of the A & E Victorian Top Cage (28” x 15”).  If kept in a cage of this size, the doves should be let out for exercise on a regular basis.  Larger bird cages are preferable if you are not able to give your birds much free-flight time

Diamond Doves spend a good deal of time on the ground, and do best in a solid-bottomed cage.  Remove the bottom grate from your cage, as such will lead to foot problems.

The cage should be located in a draft-free room that receives a good deal of sunlight (but beware of over-heating).  Diamond Doves love to sunbathe, and will gather in sunlit spots with wings and tails fanned.

As window glass filters out the sun’s beneficial UVA and UVB rays, be sure to provide your doves with a full spectrum bird bulb (Please also see my article Providing the Proper Type and Amount of Light to Pet Birds).  These little doves are quite alert to their surroundings, and definitely enjoy looking out a window.

However calm your doves may be by day, they will likely respond frantically to unusual nighttime noises (this is true of most birds, but particularly so for doves).  If nocturnal disturbances are possible, leave a small bulb lit at night so that the birds will not crash into cage walls if startled.  R-Zilla’s Incandescent Nightlight and similar bulbs (designed for reptiles, and usually tinted red or blue) provide light and some heat but will not disturb the birds’ sleep cycle.

Diamond Doves are ideally suited to outdoor aviaries, and in such situations will display their full range of natural behaviors to best effect.

Heat and Humidity
Diamond Doves hail from harsh Australian environments, and are consequently quite hardy despite their fragile appearance.  Temperatures of 50-90 F are handled easily, and humidity is rarely a concern (if kept outdoors, however, they should be provided a dry shelter).  Drafts should be avoided.

Diamond Doves consume a varied diet in the wild and should be provided with the same in captivity.  Please bear in mind that doves swallow seeds whole, without cracking them – most commercial pigeon or dove foods (seed or pellets) will be too large for these little fellows to handle.

I suggest as a basic diet a mix consisting of 50% Pretty Bird Premium Food for Canaries and Finches and 50% white millet.  To this add a daily ration of pre-crushed Lefabre Premium Daily Pellet Diet for Parakeets, which will assist in their getting enough Vitamin D3 (especially important if the doves do not have access to unfiltered sunlight).  You can also offer some Goldenfeast Australian Blend, but some of the ingredients are bulky and will need to be crushed.

Diamond Doves will also enjoy picking at millet sprays  and sprouting grass sprout pot.  Finely grated sweet potatoes, carrots and various greens should also be provided.  Hard-boiled eggs (ground with shells) should be offered once or twice each week, especially to nesting females (this is not always taken).

Finch grit  must be available at all time – doves cannot grind ingested seed shells without it – and Avitron Liquid Vitamins should be added to the drinking water.

Check back next Monday for the rest of this article.

Image referenced from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Golabek_diamentowy.jpg. Author M. Betley, under the GNU Free Documentation License.


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