The ring-necked dove is the most commonly kept companion bird of the dove family, and can be found easily due to their prolific breeding. In fact, you might have a hard time keeping them from breeding. Because they are so hardy, they make a good choice for someone who doesn’t have the time to devote to a more attention-demanding bird.
Ring-necked doves are about 12 inches in length and are a soft fawn color with a distinctive black ring around the back of the neck. The feet are pinkish-red, and the beak and eye are brown.
Native Region / Natural Habitat
Originating in Africa, these hardy birds can be found living happily in the wild in most of the Southern states, such as Georgia and Florida — it is not unusual to see a pair standing by the side of the road.
Care & Feeding
Doves have different housing needs than parrots. Doves are unable to climb up the cage bars like parrots can; 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 10 years.
Personality & Behavior
Doves are gentle birds, and will not bite or attack the way some parrot species will. Ring-necked doves can be easily hand-tamed, though most owners do not interact with them in this way. These birds love to be in pairs, and will breed easily. They aren’t picky about their nesting site, and will even have young in the feeding bowl or on the bottom of an aviary.
Ring-necked doves are ready to breed by 12 months of age or earlier, and lay two eggs per clutch. They make great parents, and are a good choice for beginning breeders who want some quick success in the hobby. These birds are good for children, provided the children understand the sensitive nature of birds, and are gentle and calm around the animal.
Speech & Sounds
The ring-necked dove is great for someone who wants a bird but has fussy neighbors who won’t accept a parrot screeching all day. Ring-necked doves sound similar to pigeons in their cooing, and though they are not loud, they can be persistent. Some people find the noise soothing, while others will be annoyed at their cooing diligence — they rarely cease.
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.
Get a Ring-Necked Dove
There are more than 40 mutations, such as white or pied birds, easily found from breeders, but you will likely find the fawn colored birds most easily available. These birds are quite inexpensive, retailing between $10 to $30 a pair, perhaps a bit more for the mutations.