Ring-necked Dove

Streptopelia risoria

Order: Columbiformes

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

Diet Requirements

  • In the wild, ring-necked doves eat seeds and fruit
  • In captivity, they are fed finch seed or pigeon mix with greens
  • Although peanuts are a food source in the wild for this species, they can cause choking in captive doves. Feed peanuts, peas and corn kernels with caution.

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management


Individual Identification


Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

  • At Happy Hollow Zoo, our elderly dove is our only touchable bird species. This is a fantastic benefit for early learners programs, for whom tactile learning is so important.

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

  • Wings may be trimmed to reduce escape potential.
  • Once acclimated, doves will step up and perch readily on a finger or palm.


Potential Messaging

  • Ring-necked doves are a more appropriate pet bird species than many parrots, especially as regards potential lifespan, enrichment requirements, etc.

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

  • Philadelphia Zoo: Easy to handle if properly trained to perch on cue; not intimidating for novice handlers, but not very impressive to an audience.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

This is a domestic species. The wild counterpart is found widely in Southern and Eastern Africa, in bush, savannah, and farmlands.

Physical Description

There are many different color variations of ring-necked doves, including the “peach” version that was developed in the USA. In all, there are 29 different recognized colors (i.e., they adhere to breed standards.) The wild type color is brownish-gray with a circle of black feathers around the neck.

These doves are about 12 inches from head to tail, and they weigh between 150 and 200 grams.

Life Cycle

Two eggs are laid per clutch and incubated for about 14 days. The young doves will stay in the nest for about 4 weeks. Like other pigeons, females will produce a “milk” from their crops, which can be used to feed the young. Adults can lay a new clutch of eggs every six weeks.

Ring-necked doves can start breeding as early as 6 months of age. Lifespan in the wild is unknown, but these doves can live up to 10 to 15 years in captivity.
Happy Hollow Zoo has a 17 year old specimen!

Monomorphic species, can be sexed via DNA test on a pulled feather, e.g., http://www.avianbiotech.com/


Males tend to be quarrelsome with other males. They love to bathe and are very clean birds.

Threats and Conservation Status


Did you know…

  • Ring-necked doves have been domesticated for 2000 to 3000 years, according to Dr. Wilmer J. Miller of Iowa State University. They were kept in cages since biblical times as pets and for magicians’ acts.
  • Another record of early domestication was by the ancient Romans. As larger cities and towns developed, townspeople needed access to live animals for ritual sacrifices. A cote of doves could be kept on the roof of a house, they bred readily, and made less mess than cow or sheep slaughter!
  • Other common names are Barbary or cape turtledove.
  • The class of muscles that allows them to be able to “coo” is one of the fastest known contracting muscles. This class of muscles is usually found in high speed tissue, such as a rattlesnake’s tail.
  • Unlike most other bird species, doves can drink water without having to tilt their heads up.



Edmund, who lived on exhibit in a walk-through aviary for 10+ years before being retrained for programs – HHPZ


  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Happy Hollow Zoo, San Jose

Contributors and Citations

  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Happy Hollow Zoo, San Jose

Top photo credit: By Yathin S Krishnappa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons