I wanted to raise doves for a very long time. Years ago, spotting a sign proclaiming Doves for Sale, I went to the house where the doves were kept, and inquired into keeping them. The fact that doves require a much bigger aviary than you would think kept me from purchasing any at that time.
When Mike and I were married, we held the wedding in a friend’s yard. She had an aviary full of love birds next to where we would put the altar, but she promised to swap out the shrill lovies for the sweet, cooing doves in a back area. At the time I had a prejudice against love birds which I will expand on another time, so I really wanted to have the doves instead. But the friend ran out of time, and never got to move the birds. You can hear the love birds chirping on our wedding videos.
Doves were pushed as a business opportunity, taking them to weddings or similar events and releasing them in a beautiful flurry of wings. With the price of gas, the fear of raptors, and the plain fact I had no time on weekends, I let this opportunity knock on someone else’s door.
Recently, a friend I work with found a dove on the sidewalk in front of her house. The bird was dazed, not really able to fly very far, so Pam picked her up and put her in a cage inside. She called me, because I have rescued all the birds she has found in the past. (Okay, so it was one cockatiel who nearly brained himself on our office window, but still)
The dove had a small injury to her breast, and Pam wanted to take her to be examined, but really couldn’t afford a vet visit. She has a sweet puppy and a darling lorikeet, and takes excellent care of those pets. I suggested she take the dove, whom she was calling Angel, to the wildlife rescue center nearby. At the center, they cleaned up the wound, gave the dove antibiotic injections, and informed Pam the dove was not a wild, native bird. Ring-neck doves are pets or raised for other reasons, but not considered wild. Even though there are many feral doves around, they could not take the bird.
Needless to say, Angel ended up with me. Mike changed her name to Skye, and she joined the cockatiels in the big aviary. It became obvious that she had been a pet because she was so calm around us, let us handle her, and hardly blinked when we came in to the aviary.
At the most wonderful Everybody’s Bird Mart in Pomona, CA, I found a beautiful plum-colored male ring-neck dove, and brought him home for Skye. We named him Stormy. He and Skye bonded immediately, which was a big relief. Pam had said there was a male dove cooing and calling for Skye all the time she was in the house. But Skye cut her losses and took up with the new man in town.
Some time later, we gave them a nest box. We had to, really. Skye was trying to nest in one particular food dish. She was annoying the cockatiels. She laid eggs almost non-stop no matter how often Mike removed them, put her on the perch across the aviary, and told her no. So the nest platform went up, the cardboard bowl-shaped insert applied, and nesting materials provided.
I will continue the story of their chicks and the expansion of our dove facility another time. I have to say, I don’t think I could ever be without doves now. Ring-necks are also called the laughing dove, and one of their calls is a cooing laugh, very distinctive and soon it becomes a sound you love to hear. Stormy calls into the night, and very early in the day, but so far our neighbors have not complained. I may have mentioned before, I don’t complain about their barking dogs, so we maintain a balance of tolerance.
The first night after we brought Stormy home, and he got to know Skye was the first time we heard his call. We were on the path to raising doves, and we were enjoying the calls very much. But it was Stormy’s night. From wherever he was hatched and raised, he had been stuffed in a travel cage with many other doves, and taken on a road trip. At the bird mart, he was pulled out of the cage and stuffed into a carrier. Doves do not have huge mental resources, but he had to have thought things were going to get worse.
Finally, he was released into a comfortable aviary and found a receptive female waiting for him. Oh, what a night!