Diamond Dove

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Common Name: Diamond Dove
Scientific Name: Geopelia cuneata

Size: 7 ½ - 9 ½ inches (19-24 cm)

Habitat: Australia; endemic to Australia and fairly widely distributed in arid and semi-arid grassland savannah. Diamond Doves gather in small parties or flocks in dry open savanna in mulga areas often among spinifex or grasses. They are also often in open riparian woodland (beside waterways).

Status: Least Concern to threatened. Global population: Unknown. The Diamond Dove is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988).

Diet: Feed on the ground for seeds from herbs and grasses and are never far from water. They walk sedately when feeding but can run quickly, with tail raised, if disturbed.

Nesting: Diamond Doves breed throughout their range, at any time after heavy rainfall. The nest is small flimsy platform of fine twigs or grass stems in low shrub or a scrubby tree. The eggs may be visible through the nest material. Both birds incubate and the eggs are never left unattended. Both also feed the young.

Cool Facts: Doves need water as they have a dry seed diet and they can suck up water without lifting their heads; Only Doves and Pigeons can drink without raising their heads to swallow.

Diamond doves can be kept and bred well in captivity and some lines have been bred for so many generations as to be considered domesticated. They spend a considerable amount of time on the ground and require a wide area to walk around. Wire-bottomed cages are not desirable; also, the floor of the cage should be kept clean since they will be walking on it. The cage should also contain perches spaced widely enough for the bird to fly safely.

Diamond doves should be encouraged to eat a variety of greens and vegetables in addition to their seed diets. They swallow seeds whole and should be given access to grit to help digest the seeds. In winter, the birds suffer in cold and should not be placed near drafts; a heating pad or basking rock (such as those sold in pet stores for lizards) can be used as a supplemental heat source, and is greatly enjoyed by many diamond doves.

Diamond doves build nests in open scoops, and will appreciate open-topped nest baskets. They will nest in whatever they find, however, including the seed dish. The mating behavior begins with a repeated call, usually by the male but sometimes by a female if kept singly. The male will display his tail feathers by dipping his head low and raising his tail, spreading the long feathers like a fan towards a desired female while uttering a two-note coo. The pair will stay together for long periods, greeting each other with low coos and vibrating their wings, or symbolically preening each other with rapid light pecks.

Generally, they must live in pairs or flocks, as their need for companionship is high. Single diamond doves can bond to humans if acquired when relatively young, but this requires a commitment of time and attention from the owner because they require months or years to tame and will then require significant companionship time with their owner, much like a parrot. Once tamed, the dove is a sweet and gentle pet, who greets its owner with happy coos and will perch on the finger or shoulder. They will also preen their owner with rapid light pecks, and accept being stroked gently in return. Care must be taken to avoid the bird thinking of its owner as a mate, as this leads to egg-laying and excessive dependence on its owner's companionship, and is stressful to the bird. This can be avoided by not being affectionate with the bird while it is engaging in nesting or display behaviors.

Found in Songbird ReMix Australia Volume I

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