Day 16 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge
I have been doing a fair bit of blogging about my pets lately, so I thought it was time to share more about my dove, Dory. I did share the story about my doves and I mentioned that I would be getting another dove at the end of that post.
And I have. I finally went out in the middle of lockdown to get Dory a friend, a beautiful female I called Daphne.
I had been wanting to get Dory a friend since about February, but my hubby to be was not sure about us getting another dove because Dory’s cooing was driving him nuts. However, I did manage to convince him and we brought our lovely Daphne home in April.
There is actually not a lot of information on the internet about diamond dove care, which really surprised me because they are the mostly commonly kept doves. So today I want to share with you some info on how to care for these doves as I tell you the story of Daphne.
Diamond Dove Love Language
If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary about birds of paradise and their complex mating rituals, you really ought to even if you are not a bird lover, because it’s pretty fascinating. But if you have, you likely won’t be surprised to learn that some bird species have courtship rituals. And all doves court for a potential female.
A male diamond dove will bow and coo to a female to attract her. This is done by bending low, beak to ground and spreading the tail feather like a peacock would. The male coos while he does this, usually three long coos. And Dory started bow cooing even while Daphne was in her cage settling in. He was dying to mate!
Female diamond doves will indicate interest by responding with soft, raspy coos. Daphne indicated her interest almost immediately, but she wasn’t ready to mate. I decided to let them meet sooner rather than later so on Daphne’s second day home, I opened up the cage and decided to see what would happen. Dory was bad. He got a bit aggressive with her, pecking at her and so I put him in his own cage. A few days later however, he decided to start proper courtship by preening Daphne instead of pecking her. She accepted the preening and would respond to his coos. She also loved exploring the house and flew around here and there and everywhere with Dory following.
Soon, Dory was advertising nests to Daphne. He’d chose a spot he thought they could build a nest in and sit, cooing and quivering his wings as if to say, “hey, here! We can have the babies in here! This could be OUR nest!” However, he picked lousy spots for the most part and Daphne still wasn’t ready to mate anyway. But he kept at it, and eventually Daphne was letting Dory feed her. It sounds gross, but birds show affection by feeding each other through regurgitation of food, and it’s an important step forward in the courtship. But while Daphne was happy to be fed, she wasn’t letting Dory do much more. At least, not while I was around.
Diamond Dove Diet
I started noticing a change in Daphne. She looked more fat, and her poos changed. Female diamond doves start producing rather large sized poos, about the size of the eggs when they about to lay eggs, and she soon laid two eggs. And this is where diet is important! Not only do you want to feed your doves a healthy diet because you want them to be healthy, but also because doves mate and produce baby birds quickly and consistently. If you don’t provide a proper diet, female doves can become calcium deficient which can lead to egg binding and even death. I do believe this is what happened to Lady, an old female dove I had years ago. I feed a more varied diet now.
I largely feed seeds because my doves are still not sure they want to eat greens like spinach or lettuce. However, I also include dried herb salad I bought at a small, local bird supply store. This is not the kind of thing you’ll find in a chain pet store. I also mix in ground up nuts and legumes, which is commercially prepared and bought in the bird supply store. I add grated cuttlebone for extra calcium and mix it all together with the bird seeds. I do this to provide more nutrients as bird seeds are largely fatty not overly wholesome. I also provide my doves with grit, something I did not do in the past with my original pair because I did not know the importance of grit to their diets. I provide an oyster shell grit to again provide the birds with extra calcium as well as support their digestion which is the primary reason to supply grit to birds. It is important to note however, that while some species of birds like doves need grits, other species like budgies do not. Lastly, I give them egg food which is again commercially prepared and is a wonderful source of protein.
So Dory and Daphne get the best diet I can provide them with, and one I’m always looking to improve if I can.
Caring for Baby Birds
Dory and Daphne have proved unsuccessful as parents. It sounds strange, but some species of birds have to learn how to care for the babies once they hatch and having no older birds around to model how to take care of babies, Dory and Daphne have lost three clutches. The first clutch was unsuccessful because they focused on keeping the baby warm and did not feed it. The second baby died in shell.
The second clutch failed because I tired to help by hand feeding the babies and once I placed them back in the nest one was smothered by Dory sitting too snuggly on him, and the other was left exposed and died of cold. I was devastated. However, it important for a bird owner to check on the babies and make sure they are being fed. You need to check and see if the baby’s crop is full. If it is not, you will likely have to hand feed.
The third clutch of eggs also failed sadly. Dory was determined to care for the eggs on his own for some inexplicable reason, and pecked at Daphne so badly to keep her away from the nest that I had to separate them. Later, when the eggs were about to hatch, I reunited them which resulted in Dory abandoning the nest. He suddenly lost interest in the eggs he had been so protective of, and was more interested in mating. Males!
After that, I decided to give them a break in breeding. I don’t want to compromise Daphne’s health by laying eggs repeatedly and I also thought it’d be good to give them some time to get over the failed clutches. I have just reunited them and hopefully if they lay again, they will be able to raise the babies.
And this is Daphne’s story for the most part! She’s a lovely bird, and loves to sit on the window sill taking in the sunshine. I adore her and hope that I we have many happy years together.
Did you learn something about caring for pet birds? Share your thoughts in the comments below.