Doves are beautiful, gentle birds that make an amazing pet for novice bird owners. They don’t make a huge ruckus other than their soothing cooing calls and love socializing with humans as well as other doves. While many birds may try to bite their humans or pluck their flock mates, doves rarely exhibit these behaviors. Doves require daily socialization, and housing doves in pairs helps to meet their needs. If you’re considering bringing a dove into your home, it’s important to understand the basics of dove care. Here are some essential tips for caring for doves:
- Housing: Doves require a spacious cage that is at least 18 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 24 inches tall for a single bird. If you plan to keep multiple doves, the cage should be even larger. Make sure the cage is placed in a quiet, draft-free area, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
- Diet: A balanced diet is crucial to a dove’s health. Doves should be fed a mixture of seeds, grains, and pellets. Fresh fruits and vegetables should also be provided on a regular basis. It’s important to provide fresh water at all times, and to clean the water bowl daily.
- Grooming: Doves are clean birds and will preen themselves regularly. However, they may also need help with grooming, especially if they have long feathers. Regular trimming of the wing feathers is recommended to prevent the bird from flying away or injuring itself. You can also provide a shallow dish of water for the bird to bathe in. If not housed with flock mates, doves may appreciate a helping hand gently removing mature pin feather sheaths from their heads during a molt. To do this, gently pinch and roll the pin feathers between your thumb and forefinger until the sheath disintegrates into a dust.
- Exercise: Doves require regular exercise to maintain their health and well-being. Providing a spacious cage with plenty of perches and toys can encourage exercise and play. Additionally, allowing the bird to fly around in a safe, enclosed area outside of the cage can provide much-needed exercise.
- Health: Regular veterinary check-ups are important for the health of your dove. Signs of illness may include lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or changes in behavior. It’s important to seek veterinary care if you notice any of these symptoms. Doves can live approximately 10-20 years with proper care.
- Socialization: Doves are social birds and can become lonely or bored if they don’t have a companion. If you plan to keep multiple doves, make sure they are compatible and have plenty of space. Additionally, spending time with your dove and providing toys and enrichment activities can help prevent boredom and promote socialization.
In conclusion, caring for a dove requires a commitment to providing a healthy, safe, and comfortable environment. By following these basic tips for dove care, you can ensure that your bird lives a long and happy life as a cherished member of your family.
Written using ChatGPT and revised and edited for content by Dr. Maurice Pitesky at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.