Common Name: Eurasian Collared Dove
Latin Name: Streptopelia decaocto Order: Columbiformes Family:Columbidae
Originally a wild species found across northern Asia and Europe, the Eurasian collared dove is now kept as a pet in many other parts of the world. It’s call is very similar to the North American mourning dove. The body is of similar size to that species, although somewhat rounder. It is an easily kept species that is forgiving of a variety of husbandry conditions, has a non-aggressive, if somewhat flighty (no pun intended) temperament. As young animals, they are very noisy, calling almost constantly during daylight hours. They are excellent for use in presentations to show the adaptations of birds.
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
This species is common to northern African, Europe, the Middle East, and Eastern Asia to China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. It is invasive in the southern United States. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, farmlands and even suburban yards and open spaces.
In the native habitat, life expectancy is 3-10 years. In human care, lifespan increases to 17-20 years.
Capron Park Zoo: Their ambassador collared doves have just entered their 27th year.
Collared doves are seed dispersers. They are also common prey for falcons and smaller hawks.
Life Cycle Natural History Relevant Information
- As youngsters, they tend to move around a lot so housing with adequate flight space is preferable, with several levels of perching. Swing perches may also be utilized by young birds. As older birds, perching can be adjusted so that it is stationary and can be easily jumped to with little effort. Perching can be wrapped with perching tape to allow for better grip.
- Capron Park Zoo: Their dove holding consists of a multi-level ferret cage (shelves removed) from Midwest Caging; large doors on both the top and bottom make it easy to not only retrieve the animal for handling, but also service the enclosure.
Temperature, Humidity, Light Cycles
- Temperature: ambient room temperature (generally 65-75 degrees F)
- Light: ambient light
- Newspaper (stripped daily)
Other General Housing Requirements or Management information
- Large, shallow bathing bowls/trays will be readily utilized by collared doves.
Diet in the Wild
- Seeds, grains, berries, occasionally small insects
Diet under human care
- Capron Park Zoo: Their doves are fed a mix of finch seeds and crushed gamebird crumble. Once a week they receive a tablespoon of mixed rainforest bird diet (which includes seeds, fruit, vegetables, softbill diet, eggshell, insectivore diet, soaked dogfood and leaf eater biscuit). They also receive millet spray weekly as enrichment.
- Capron Park Zoo: Their birds are extremely elderly (27 years) and have displayed symptoms of arthritis (difficulty gripping when perched).
- Grip tape added to smooth perches
- Rougher barked branches added as perching
- Moving perches removed
- Birds receive Gabopentin daily, plus cosequin powder sprinkled on food. Meloxicam for pain is administered for pain as needed.
Enrichment & Training
Behavioral Relevant Information
- Collared doves are classic “search, scratch and peck” feeders. Anything that encourages this behavior is successful
- Rearranging perching is excellent enrichment (done 1x/month)
- Shavings/shredded paper/hay on diet
- Millet sprays – either on cage floor or tied to branches
- Mirrors – on side of cage or in water dish
- Mealworms or crickets – not more than 1x/month
- Crushed/scattered cereal or crackers
- Scattering diet
- Enrichment offered 1x/day
Other Enrichment Resources
- Desensitized to being held in hand
- Capron Park Zoo: Their doves will spread out a wing to display feathers when wing is touched while being held
- This species is NOT suitable for raptor equipment
Reinforcers used & schedule of reinforcement
Social Housing/Colony Management
- Typical of Columbiformes species, males will generally fight/pick at each other if housed together.
Colony or Breeding Management
- No sexual dimorphism
- Capron Park Zoo: their doves are both male and are differentiated by behavior.
- Invasive species – escaped pet that has become established in southern US, competing with local Columbiformes species
Threats and Conservation Status
- IUCN: Least Concern – population increasing
Interesting Natural History Information
- A group of these birds escaped from a pet store shipment in the Bahamas originally and were able to thrive and spread to the mainland of the US. Now they are found all over the southeastern US, especially Florida.
Did you know…
- Doves and pigeons produce something called “crop milk” – a cream cheese looking substance secreted by the crops of both parents and fed to babies.
- A dove/pigeon chick is known as a “squab”
- Collared Doves are called this because they have a black “collar’ of feather along the back of their neck
Handling & Presentation Tips
- This species is easily handled and gentle, but because it is a prey species and by nature easily startled, it’s generally best to stick with intermediate handlers.
- Capron Park Zoo: They handle their doves in the palm of the hand with the other hand gently cupped over top to help keep bird calm and prevent fly off
- Capron Park Zoo: Doves may not be removed from transport cages out of doors (indoor handling only). Birds may be used for multiple programs in one day (up to 4), but requires 24 hours off following use. If taken off site for programming, handler must bring water and seed.
Public Contact and Interaction Guidelines
- Capron Park Zoo: Public is permitted to gently touch back to tail (topside only) of animal – NEVER head or chest area.
- Capron Park Zoo: Dove transport crate is 18”x18”x24” finch cage with perch and removable tray.
- Line with newspaper
- Covered for transport: light cotton cover (summer), heavy towel or blanket (winter).
- Capron Park Zoo: Doves are gently scooped up from enclosures and allowed to step up onto perch in transport crate
- Capron Park Zoo: 65-85 degrees F: 2-hour time limit (total handling time); 85-90 degrees F: 1-hour time limit (total handling time); over 90 degrees F: birds not handled
- Columbiformes TAG: Gary Michael, Louisville Zoo firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for specialty/exotic rescues such as:
- In southern US, may be able to find non-releasable at local wildlife rehabilitation centers
- Dove breeders exist, but breeders should be vetted, site visit conducted if possible, and AZA or other professional references provided.
- Maureen O’Keefe – contact to obtain IC info for other institutions housing collared doves
Contributors and Citations
- Capron Park Zoo, Attleboro, MA
Comments from the Rating System
Left: Pecky Dove, Right: Screwy Dove
Capron Park Zoo Education Department