Notes On Keeping & Raising
Doves & Pigeons
with Krissy Anne Butler
The term "dove" refers to the small and medium-sized birds, such as the Bleeding-heart dove pictured at right, while large-sized birds like the Victoria Crowned Pigeon on the Gazette cover shown at the top left of this page usually go by "pigeon." In some species these terms are applied interchangeably. Doves and pigeons are considered to be "game birds" as many species have been hunted and used for food in many of the countries in which they are native. It is very common for people who keep quail and pheasants to also raise pigeons and doves.
Some breeders feel it is best to start out with mated pairs of pigeons and doves, preferably not over three years old, that have proven themselves to be reliable breeders and feeders. This is also important since some varieties are not easy to sex, in which case the beginner may run the risk of getting two birds of the same sex. A good pair of pigeons or doves may produce youngsters year in and year out for a long time, for they are usually long-lived if given reasonably good care and the right food.
Generally speaking, foreign doves and pigeons are divided into two large groupsthe seedeaters and the fruit-eaters (an example of the latter being the Jambu Fruit Dove, a pair of which is pictured above right. The so-called fruit pigeons as a general rule do not breed as prolifically as the seed eating species. Moreover, they require soft food in the form of boiled rice mixed with chopped fruit, whereas seed-eaters require little else than various grains and occasional mealworms and a little mynah-bird food. Fruit-pigeons are not suitable for small aviaries since their copious soft dropping, unless frequently removed, are likely to cause an unsightly, smelly mess. However, if large, spacious enclosures are available for them, they are likely to do quite well in them. Owing to their usually colorful plumage, pigeons and doves are much prized by many bird-lovers. Our discussion here will focus mainly on seed-eating doves and pigeions, of which currently many varieties are to be found in fanciers' hands.
The Game Bird Gazette magazine provides great information on how to successfully keep and breed pigeons and doves, including pigeon and dove feeding, housing, and other care requirements. You can also find doves and pigeons listed for sale in the Gazette.