The Mixed Collection 2-
The Doves and Pigeons.
When first asked to look at the Mixed Collection by Lloyd I must admit one of
my first thoughts was what about the doves!
I have kept a few over the years but must admit I have found them skittish, nervous and prone to fits of "projectile motion" which has lead to losses in my finch collection - not through any form of aggression but simply based upon their size and the effect this momentum has upon any finch that blunders into their path!!
However, I am not "pigeon bashing" as I find the group as a whole fascinating but their size suggests that mixed collections should be in large aviaries where the pigeons can establish their own space and not be disturbed every time we enter their enclosure.
Despite this there is one dove that I am heavily biased towards and that is
the Masked or Cape dove, Oena capensis, for its peaceful
disposition and the fact that it will remain fairly docile even in a small
aviary. These guys will nest just about anywhere and are harmless to any
finches. Their lack of aggression is legendary and hens I had would 'viciously'
bash you with their wings as you lifted them up with your finger to check their
eggs or chicks!! I kid you not - they are that placid!
When you first introduce them into the aviary they can cause some disruption as they have very pointy wings and must appear like a Bird of Prey in profile and it takes the finches some time to settle down but after that it is all good!
|Diamond Dove at Nest.||Diamond Dove.|
Other doves that are amongst the commoner aviary inhabitants are the
Diamond dove, Geopelia cuneata, as they are easily obtained,
cheap and come in a number of mutations if you are that way inclined. In a small
aviary they are OK but, as the aviary size is increased, so is their propensity
to become very agitated and flighty. These guys are free-breeders and are always
available and won't cost an arm and a leg!
Although never having kept them, I am told that the Talpacoti or Ruddy Ground dove, Columbina talpacoti, is an excellent dove for the mixed collection although it has been a long time since I saw any advertised for sale. They appeared to rate in most dove peoples 'top three' doves based on their compatibility and willingness to breed.
However, some suggested they some individuals could be aggressive to other, smaller dove species.
My experiments with Peaceful (Geopelia striata) and Bar-shouldered doves (G. humeralis) were not an unparalleled success and these species were quickly returned to from whence they came, as they tended to want to single handedly decapitate every finch in the aviary, and me as well I might add!!!
However, the Peaceful dove does come in a range of different colours all of which are freely available and a reasonable price.
|Pair of Masked Doves.||Cock Masked Dove.|
The Green-winged (Chalcophaps indica), Rose-crowned (Ptilinopus regina) and Purple-crowned fruit doves (P.superbus) are becoming more frequently seen in mixed collections but, never having personally kept them, I can offer little comment - except to state that their size would be a warning to me. Their beauty is breathtaking but would suggest they are far better presented in large planted aviaries. In small aviaries they are nervous and I actually saw one collide with a Diamond sparrow (Dove 1: Sparrow nil!!), not pretty. Yet the same species in a large aviary in Western Australia you could walk up to and she simply continued sitting on her eggs!
One advantage with the fruit pigeons in a mixed collection is that they will introduce many of the finches and parrots to a wide diet range as their feeding is still fairly specialised. As "monkey see, monkey do" is all the norm in the bird world you'll soon have all your non-dove community lining up for the fruit and other goodies that are a must for the fruit pigeons!
One of most famous family of Australian pigeons would have to be the Bronzewings. This family comprises the Common Bronzewing (Phaps calcoptera), Brush Bronzewing (Phaps elegans) and the Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes). The latter is very common and exists in several mutations that appear from time to time. Again size makes these guys suitable for finch-less aviaries but a few of the parrots would be fine in with them as long as there was plenty of cover and hiding places. Might I suggest that many of the parrots are less flighty than their finch "cousins" and therefore less likely to react when a pigeon takes flight!
I am possible being remiss here by leaving the Spinifex Pigeon,
Geophaps plumifer, out until now. These guys love the floor of the aviary
and romp around in tussocks and in sunny spots well away from the free flying
finches! The ones I saw were breeding in with finches and their owners stated no
problems with them in that respect. However, all stated that they had no time
for quail and each pair had killed these in no time flat - possibly because they
also nest on the ground!! They also command a higher price tag and can be
equally destructive to each other - even in mated pairs! Oh, and only one pair
to each aviary!! Come in two races - the white or red-chested forms.
I was fortunate to see these guys in the wild in the Kimberley one morning while Gouldian counting for the Save The Gouldian Fund. They were racing around the ground in what looked like a conga line!
Other Aussies seen occasionally are the Squatter pigeon, Geophaps scripta, the Torres Strait pigeon, Ducula bicolour, the Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca and the White-headed (Baldy) Pigeon ( Columba leucomela ) - the latter would put the fear of god into a King parrot let alone a finch!!
The Wompoo Pigeon (Ptilinopus magnificus) is held by a lucky few and the foreign Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) by even fewer. I once saw one at Taronga Zoo and will never forget the stunning appearance of this bird. Another well-known and widely kept foreign species is the Bleeding Heart Pigeon (Gallicolumba luzonica) and these guys are unbelievable with their red gashed chest. I have heard of a local breeder that would have his birds land on his shoulders and eat from his hand but must admit the ones I've seen were a tad less friendly. These guys can be aggressive towards hens and other dove species.
|Rose Crowned Fruit Pigeon.||Superb Fruit Pigeon.|
TheSpotted Turtle-Dove Streptopelia chinensis and the Laughing or Senegal Turtle-Dove Streptopelia senegalensis are feral in Australia and a few people I know have kept them and several recommended fostering their eggs under quieter dove species - the ones I saw were like domestic pigeons and showed no fright by our presence and continued feeding around our feet!
Hope that solves more problems than it creates! Guess as a rule of thumb give
the doves plenty of cover so that they feel secure and can hide if they feel
threatened. Horses for courses, so don't plan on having a mixed collection
complete with large doves in a lawn locker aviary!
To me the majority of the doves are probably more suited to a mixed collection with the parrots rather than with delicate "more easily damaged" finches!