Common Names: Ringneck Doves, Ring-necked Doves, Cape Turtle Dove, & Half Collard Dove
Scientific Name: Streptopelia capicola
Origin: Southern & East Africa
Relative Size: 11 inches—140-180 grams
Average Lifespan: 10 – 27 years.
Ringneck Doves make wonderful pets and come in three colors— brown, beige, and white. These doves are part of the pigeon family and look similar to the North American Mourning Dove. These doves are also known as Cape Turtle Doves or Half Collard Doves in other parts of the world.
In the wild, their appearance is often a darker shade of brown with a black ring around their collar. In captivity, they come in many different shades of brown, beige, and white. The white versions of these doves do not have a black ring; however, they do exhibit red eyes indicating they are albino. The many mutations available in captivity are not seen in the wild as they are easily picked off buy hawks and snakes.
In the wild these doves forage for food on the ground. They survive on seeds and have been known to eat small insects. Their habitat consists of low grasslands to open savannahs. Before the sun sets, they are often seen on the ground collecting seeds before finding a place to roost. It is not uncommon to see them in groups of a hundred or more while drinking water.
RINGNECK DOVES IN CAPTIVITY
Ringneck Doves in captivity are popular pets. They are often used as props for magicians as they are small and very friendly. Many bird breeders enjoy keeping these doves inside their aviaries as they are community birds and get along with smaller birds.
Because these birds come in pure white they are often showcased in cages for weddings or major events symbolizing purity, peace, and love. It’s important to note these doves cannot be released as they will die in the wild. These birds have been domesticated and do not know how to survive without human aid nor will they know how to avoid predators that will easily prey upon them. If one wishes to release white doves for an event then a white trained homing pigeon is required.
RINGNECK DOVES AS PETS
These doves make wonderful pets for many reasons. They are wonderful for children as they do not bite and have a friendly demeanor. They will easily sit upon their owner’s shoulders and just hangout if allowed. Having a handful of parakeet seeds or extra bread crumbs on hand while holding this dove is ideal as they will quickly enjoy a quick snack while out. Though they are not acrobatic like parrots, they make up for it through their interaction with their owners. They will gladly allow their owners to pet them and caress their feathers while being out. Another benefit of owning a Ringneck Dove as a pet is they easily remain tame once tamed even when placed among other Ringneck Doves.
The taming process is simple due to the fact these birds have been in captivity of hundreds of years. They seem to have no fear of human interaction from the get go. If your pet dove seems to shy away from handling, gradually try to coax him with seeds to step on your hand. Do this daily and the bird will eventually come to associate his owner as a positive experience. Only then should the owner try to pet the bird.
It does not matter if the bird was purchased as a baby or an adult—both make wonderful pets. A baby Ringneck Dove does not have to be purchased young to tame like other bird species.
BREEDING RINGNECK DOVES
Breeding Ringneck Doves is easy compared to most birds. In fact, they require very little maintenance to get them started. All that is needed is a compatible pair, any male and female, and a nesting site. When getting doves ready to breed most breeders usually install nesting boxes inside the cage to simulate breeding.
A dove breeding box should be used; however, any container inside the cage will do. If a dove breeding box is used, pine shaving should be placed into the nesting box as this helps the eggs from rolling and breaking.
When the doves start to show interest in mating, the male dove will start to display and coo. He will build a nest with a few twigs. Most nests are simple and not elaborate. Placing a few pine needles or smaller twigs will do the trick.
Once the nest is completed and mating done the female will only lay two eggs. During the incubation period, which is 14 days, the female will only leave the nest to eat and turn the eggs. Around 1-2 days before hatching, the babies will make a small hole which allows them to breathe air. Soon after, the babies will hatch and once complete, the mother will discard any eggs shells.
BABY RINGNECK DOVES
Baby Ringneck Doves grow quickly. As soon as they start to hatch, they continue to double in size every day for the first week. By the time the babies are 4 weeks old, most are weaned and have left the nest. In most cases, the female will try to produce another two chicks; however, it’s best to remove the nesting box as this gives her plenty of time to rest until next breeding season. Most breeders will allow only 2 clutches a year and some only allow 1—the choice is up to the breeder.
HOUSING YOUR RINGNECK DOVE
When keeping Ringneck Doves, inside an aviary, there is really not much to worry about as they are pretty good about not fighting. Occasionally, you’ll have a few aggressive doves but quarrels are quickly solved and the birds go about their business. If you believe a pair is becoming too aggressive, then re-caging them or re-homing them might be a better option for the breeder.
If the doves are caged as pets, then they need to have a cage large enough from them to fly from perch to perch and turn around. Placing two parallel perches about 5 inches apart is ideal. Food and water bowls should never be placed under perches as they can quickly become contaminated with droppings.
The cage should also have a grill to collect all messes made throughout the day and to limit direct contact with the dove. In the wild doves rarely have to deal with any mess as they fly freely—a cage is a different story.
The cage should be washed weekly and disinfected. Using a 10% bleach ratio to water is ideal. If the owner wishes to use a more natural disinfectant apple cider vinegar works well. None the less, the cage needs to be washed thoroughly and dried before the doves are introduced back into the cage.
FEEDING YOUR DOVE
Doves do not have beaks like parrots but that doesn’t mean they enjoy fresh fruits or vegetables. Cutting or shredding small chunks of fruit and vegetables is ideal. Greens can easily be cut and placed into the cage. Use a cheese grader to accomplish any shredding.
It’s important to note that Ringneck Doves can be finicky when eating anything new. If you find that your dove will not eat new foods placed into the cage, continue to add it in anyway. Eventually curiosity will get the best of the bird and it will try new foods. You’ll learn what your birds like and what they don’t.
A base food needs to be included as well. They have pellets and seeds available in the market today. Many breeders buy a nice blend of dove seed, while others prefer to use cockatiel seed or parakeet seed. Whatever you choose, it’s important the diet be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.