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17 Fascinating & Fun Dove Facts You Never Knew

Nicole Cosgrove

Doves are common sights in the United States. You may look out your window and see one perched on your birdbath or fence, especially if you have bird feeders. There are many different species of doves, but they share similar characteristics. Keep reading to learn more about these interesting birds.


17 Fascinating Dove Facts:

  • There are 12 species of doves that live in the United States and Canada.
  • Doves and pigeons are names that are used interchangeably. They both make up the family of Columbidae.
  • Very young doves are called squabs.
  • Doves have feathers that are loosely attached to their bodies. If they’re grabbed by a predator, the feathers will easily fall out to help the doves escape.
  • Doves are strong fliers and can navigate well. For this reason, pigeons have been used as messengers by people throughout history. They always find their way back home.
  • Doves prefer to live in wide-open spaces, woodlands, and tropical forests. They can live anywhere, though. They’re hardy birds that adapt to their environments.
  • While most birds tuck their heads under their wings to go to sleep, doves do not. They pull their heads close to their bodies and let them rest on their shoulders instead. They sleep in an upright sitting position.
  • Doves mate for life. They breed during breeding season, but they remain with the same companion throughout their lives.
  • Female doves almost always lay just two eggs.
  • The dove’s crop (part of a bird’s esophagus that stores food) secretes a substance that resembles cottage cheese called “dove’s milk.” For the first few days of the squabs’ lives, they are fed this milk that their parents regurgitate for them. Males and females produce this milk, and they both use it to feed their young.
  • The cooing sound that’s associated with doves is usually made by the males. They do this primarily to try to attract their mates.
  • The birds commonly known as pigeons are actually named Rock Doves. These are the birds that you see in large groups in urban areas.
  • Doves eat seeds as the bulk of their diet and store them in their crops. Then, they slowly digest them. So if you see a dove perched somewhere and it looks like they’re not moving, they’re likely digesting their food.
  • The white dove is known as a symbol of peace in many cultures and religions.
  • Male doves collect the materials for their nests. The female dove is the one that constructs them.
  • Doves don’t have gallbladders. They do produce bile, but it gets secreted directly into the intestines.
  • When most birds drink water, they take a mouthful and then tilt their heads back to let it run down their throats. When doves drink water, they suck it up through their beaks like a straw.


Doves as Pets

Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Many people keep doves as pets. They’re docile birds and make sweet companions. Since doves want to bond with a mate, it’s preferred that you keep two together.


dove eating bread on the grass
Image Credit: NVS my world, Shutterstock

As a peaceful but easily frightened bird, the dove is usually timid and happy to interact with other doves. Some doves can never be fully tamed. You won’t have the same interactions with them that you will with other companion birds. They can’t climb cage bars, and they don’t play with toys the same way that a parrot does, for instance. Doves can get used to humans and eventually might take food from their hands, but they prefer to be social with other birds.

Cage Requirements

ringneck dove
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

A wide cage is important because doves move around by flying, not climbing. They need a few perches at different heights and enough room to fly to them. These perches should be different widths and textures to keep your dove’s feet healthy. A dish large enough for them to bathe in will keep them happy.

What Kind of Dove Can I Get?

Two types of doves are commonly sold in pet stores: Diamond Doves and Ring-Necked Doves. You can find more types available through dove breeders. The Mourning Dove is protected under the Migratory Bird Act, and it’s illegal to own them.



There are many different types of doves. These gentle birds are beautiful with peaceful dispositions. They have a variety of colors and markings that make them pleasing to watch. You can attract them to your yard with seed and water. They usually show up in pairs, but a single dove perched on your birdbath is not an uncommon sight. We hope that you learned a few things about doves that you never knew before. If you’re considering getting a dove or two, check bird rescues and shelters for doves that are looking for a home. Your perfect companion may be waiting for you to adopt them.

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Featured Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.