Years ago, I became a bird owner. My dad found a budgie in his backyard. The budgie that my dad found was a green budgie with a yellow face, which is the birds natural colour type in the wild. I was living in my own apartment then, and I told my dad I wanted the bird. So I became the proud owner of Hedwig.
After a month or two, maybe longer (this was years ago) I decided to get Hedwig a friend. So I brought home another budgie bird I named Wings. Wings and Hedwig lived happily together for a few months and then Hedwig suddenly died. Immediately, I noticed a difference in Wings. He didn’t play as much, or chirp anymore. So I decided to get him a friend, another budgie of course, named Daisy.
Now, that happened in the spring and summer. It was maybe 2008 or 2009. But, in the winter I was in my local Petsmart one day and I went to look at the budgies. I don’t remember anything about those budgies at all because in the bottom cage of the live bird section were these two beautiful birds. I fell in love.
They were diamond doves. Diamond doves are about the size of a budgie, with long tail feathers and a round fleshy ring around the eye. They also have a sprinkling of white dots over their wing feathers and make the sweetest coo sound you’ve ever heard. These two doves were nesting. One was a grey dove with white tiny spots on her wings, the other was a white dove and you could make out the dots on his wings as well. They were calm and peaceful and had the most precious little faces. And my heart melted. They were so special.
I didn’t immediately bring them home. I talked with the salesgirl for a while about them, and then I walked away. But I was in love with these doves, and could not stop thinking about them. They were beautiful and sweet and I loved them. It was that simple. I loved the birds. So I made the decision to buy the doves. I bought them a big cage, a nest, some natural wood perches to exercise their feet and put down hay bedding. I bought them seed, millet sprays and dried mealworms. I named them Lord and Lady, and I wanted to be the best bird mom for them.
Lord and Lady had their own personalities. Lord was definitely the bolder bird, likely because he was male. He was also calm and steady. He would coo to Lady and offer her nesting material. He helped build the nest, and sat with her her when they had eggs (dummy ones I had switched in because I was not interested in caring for baby birds), and would perch up high at night to protect Lady. When Lady hurt her foot and I had to place her in a hospital cage, he cooed constantly for her. Lady on the other hand, was more timid, barely cooed and was the calmer bird. Her coos were super soft and sweet. She tended to her nest faithfully when they had eggs. Watching these little doves be doves, courting, nesting, preening each other brought me a lot of joy, and a sense of peace too. They were so adorable together and I loved having them.
I regret that I don’t have a lot of pictures of Lord and Lady. Back then I think I had my flip phone still, or maybe my Blackberry, and I just didn’t take a ton of photos. It wasn’t a thing then the way it was now. Sadly, about four years ago Lady, died. She had been consistently laying eggs for all her life, and while I tried to offer the best diet I could, in the end I think she suffered calcium depletion and died. I was heartbroken. And Lord was all alone.
I thought about trying to get Lord a friend. But the truth is, at the that time, I was in such bad place mentally and emotionally that I didn’t want to care for another bird. Wings and Daisy had both passed away, and Lady’s death was just another blow. So Lord lived alone. He seemed perfectly fine, still cooing from time to time, preening his feathers and even answering my coos.
Then, in January of 2019 I decided to become a bird mom again. I decided to adopt a budgie, Aloha. Eventually I went from one budgie to four and I began to learn more about birds. I let these budgies fly around. My fiance then suggested we let Lord out of his cage. I thought, goodness, Lord has never been out of his cage and immediately felt like the most horrible bird mom ever. I knew doves are not as smart as budgies, and worried about taking him out. I thought Lord would panic and fly around smashing into windows and walls. But Lord was perching on my finger inside the cage so one day I slowly took him out. He sat calmly on my hand. Then he fluttered his wings and began to fly in an unpracticed circle. Once I had him settled on my hand again, he stayed calm and still and from that day on Lord came out of his cage more and more.
One day we decided to play some diamond dove videos for Lord. Once he heard he cooing, he perked up and began trying to see the screen of the phone and answering the coos of the birds in the video. I did some research and found out that Lord could with me for another ten years, so I decided it was time for Lord to have a friend.
Finding diamond doves where I live has not proved easy. I had never seen diamond doves at Petsmart before I found Lord and Lady, and I’ve never seen them there since. I had not seen these doves at any pet store in my city at all. So I did an online search, and finally found one store two hours away that had diamond doves. They had two in, one male and one female. I had decided I wanted a male so that there would be no chance of calcium depletion illness. I had consulted with other owners of diamond doves who said that two male doves would be okay together. So, I got in my car and drove out to this pet store way out in small town Ontario, and found my dove, Dory.
Dory and another diamond dove were kept together with some finches. The cage was small and the birds were many. Both doves had their tail and back feathers plucked out by the finches, who likely did this to make their nests. I felt sad for the other dove, a female, but I only took Dory home.
At first, I wasn’t sure Dory was a male. He was acting more like a female, very quiet, very soft coos and some others in my diamond dove group on Facebook thought he looked female. But once I introduced Dory to Lord, it was obvious he was male. He began trying to court Lord! Lord and Dory were pretty contented together, though it was clear Dory had much more energy and was hormonal while Lord was calmer and quieter. Sometimes we had to let them out of the cage at different times so Lord could have some peace and quiet from his overly friendly dove companion. Dory definitely has more energy and is far more active than I remember Lord being as a young bird. He’s curious too, and his coo is higher pitched.
Lord and Dory lived together a few months and then suddenly I knew Lord was dying. One morning he was just very still, and I let him rest away from Dory thinking he was tired from Dory wanting to play all the time. But later that day, my finace texted me that Lord had not moved all day. I knew then, my bird had little time to live. I went home immediately to spend time with my bird, and I was there in his last moments.
And now, Dory is all alone. My heart breaks for this bird. I know that he needs to be with his own kind, that a female friend is the best for him. But I’ve been torn about getting another bird for a variety of reasons. I do however have a contact who has agreed to hold a female dove she has raised from a chick for me. I cannot wait to meet this bird and bring her home. But, alas, COVID-19…
There really is something about birds. They are just so interesting to watch, and caring for them has proved hugely rewarding for me. They make me laugh when I am feeling tired or frustrated and lighten my day. The doves especially have captured my heart, perhaps because they are so mellow and peaceful where budgies are playful and busy. I have always been charmed by my diamond doves and I hope to have them for many years to come.