Doves go way back in history as signs of love and peace. Which is strange if you have ever spent much time around them. They are merely pigeons in prettier wrappers. They can be mean, aggressive, stupid, and so far from peace and love as to make a mockery of all that symbolism.
I have a pair of ringneck doves, not a wild species in my area. They are nice enough to have and I love their laughing coo. I can’t convince the hen to stop laying eggs. I try to stay on top of the situation, letting her have them for a week or so and then pulling them. That way she gets a bit of a break before going into the next laying sequence. Once or twice I have missed the timing and found chicks instead of eggs in the nest. I’ve managed to find homes for most of those birds because they can’t stay in the cage for very long. Dad will viciously attack his offspring to get them to leave and to get Mom back in the mood.
I recently obtained a pair of Inca doves or Mexican doves. They are pretty little things that make a two note coo. Tradition states that they are saying, “No hope.” I think they are saying, “No soap” because they like the build-up of algae in their water dish. I gave them a dove box which is huge for them. They are about a quarter of the size of the ringnecks. These two are also hugely afraid of everything. They should know that when I walk past their cage, I am going to walk back again in a few minutes. However, it comes as a complete surprise to them and causes them to fly about the cage. Then they would be saying, “Oh, ow!”
The bird club has gotten into exotic doves thanks to a member who raises them. They seem to be easy to raise and prolific with chicks. Some of the types he has are the emerald wing doves, zebra doves, bleeding hearts, and of course the Victoria Crown Pigeon which is pretty enough to be a dove.
I found a web page that states doves are associated with peace and love because they mate for life, they are loyal, they are dedicated parents (see above), they are harmless and eat fruits, seeds, and plants. And they have chosen to live close to humans. This may have allowed people to observe the birds and get this crazy idea. I have seen a variety of doves in my area, especially coming to clean up spilled seeds from the aviaries. We have the ever-present mourning dove and the invasive Eurasian Collared dove.
Of course, Noah, of flooding fame, used a dove to check if the waters had receded enough for the ark to hove to. The bird returned with an olive branch, which it could neither eat nor use in a nest. Not smart birds, doves. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite the Goddess of Love, is closely associated with doves. They draw the chariot in which she arrived into being. Hindus also have a God of Love, Kamadeva, who is depicted riding a dove. And from Central Asia, a tale about a war being avoided because a dove nested in one king’s helmet. D’ah!
You may have attended a wedding or a funeral or some other ceremony where white “doves” were released to symbolize something like true love or the spirit flying to heaven. If you are ever in a position to stop this practice, do so. The best case scenario is that the birds are actually white homing pigeons and most will make it home safely. Hawks and other predators love these events. Worst case scenario, the birds are domestic King pigeons or ringneck doves, released with no idea on how to get home. The majority of these birds will be picked off by predators, killed on roadways, or die of hunger or thirst since they are not skilled in finding their own food or water. A few will be rounded up and saved by kind folks, but they still are at risk from stress, trauma, internal injuries that are not apparent, and many other threats.
An additional reason to stop this practice is that some of the birds released into the wild have survived and become invasive. The Eurasian Collared dove is everywhere after being released, according to the story I first heard, at a wedding. They were smart enough to find food and to survive. They are now found from Florida to Alaska. But according to Project FeederWatch, while they compete with native species, they appear to be helping the native doves survive. Go figure. Still, it’s not a good idea to release domestic birds into the wild.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.