White Dove

Sacred White Dove ~ Java Dove

Family: Columbidae White Dove, Sacred White Dove, or Java DoveStreptopelia risoriaPhoto Courtesy: Lisa Umstead - Parrot Haven
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I have a question. A white dove came to our yard in Northern Indiana this summer. We want to provide shelter and protection through the winter. Can you offer... (more)  Susanne Siebrase

   When you think of the term 'dove' you think of the White Dove. The White Dove has been one of the most universal symbols of love and peace throughout history!

   The White Dove, Sacred White Dove, or Java Dove is the most historically described dove from Noah through today. We often see it used today as an emblem in peace negotiations. We also commonly see it used in weddings to symbolize love.

   Though it is very popular to use White Doves for what are called 'wedding releases', it is actually white homing pigeons that are used. White homing pigeons are very strong flyers, have a well developed homing instinct, and will return to their dovecote. The White Dove is not the same bird as the white homing pigeon. Though they are both white, the White Dove is a smaller bird. It does not fly straight for long distances but rather flutters about, and it does not have a highly developed homing instinct.

   Another area where White Doves are commonly used is in magic acts. They are intelligent birds that can be taught simple tricks, and they are not afraid of being in a cloth handkerchief or a dark hat.

   White Doves are very popular and an excellent bird for a beginner They are actually a white variety of the Ringneck Dove though a bit more expensive, and they have all the good points of the Ringneck Doves.They are very easy to care for and have a very sweet gentle nature. They will do well in either a cage or in an aviary and can be kept as a single bird or as a pair. Once a White Dove is comfortable with its home and its family, It can be handled by adults and children alike.

For more information about the care of Doves and Pigeons see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Doves & Pigeons.

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Geographic Distribution
Streptopelia risoria
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Columbiformes
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Streptopelia
  • Species: risoria

Scientific Name: Streptopelia risoria var.

Distribution:    The White Dove, Sacred White Dove, or Java Dove are a white mutation of the Ringneck Dove. Like the other Ringnecks, they are only known to exist as a domesticated bird.
   See Ringnecked Doves for more information on their history.

Description:     White Doves are small birds, about 12" from head to tail. They will live an average of 10 - 15 years, though some may live over 25 years.
   In the 1800's & early 1900's the Ringneck Dove and the White Dove were considered to be two different species/races of dove due to the difference in their coloration. They were labeled the "Blond Ringneck" Steptopelia risoria and the "White Ringneck" Streptopelia alba. Many years elapsed before it was determined that these two birds were the same species, just two different color phases. These two colors were the only known colors in the United States until the 1950's.

Care and feeding:    Suitable housing for a White Dove would be a large cockatiel cage along with some flight time outside the cage. A pair can be kept and bred in a cage as small as 2 feet square. Cages that are longer and wider are more important than tall cages, as these birds flutter around and do not climb. Males tend to be quarrelsome with other males so keep pairs housed alone.
   Like the Ringneck Dove they are quite hardy. If they are kept outdoors and are accustomed to cold weather, they can take below freezing temperatures for a short period of time.
   White Doves are very clean birds and love to bathe. They will enjoy either a bath in a large bowl of water or a shower, a misting with a light spray of clean water.
   A commercial dove and pigeon mix or a regular parakeet seed mix supplemented with greens rich in minerals, vitamins, and calcium is a fine diet. White Doves love treats. They not only enjoy their greens, but will also enjoy spray millet and such things as crumbled cornmeal and bread. Grit is essential as all Ringneck Doves swallow their food whole, and it helps grind up the food. Oyster shell or even cuttlebone can be added for calcium and is important for egg layers.
   See About Doves & Pigeons: Housing and About Doves & Pigeons: Care and Feeding for more information.

Social Behaviors:    They are good-natured social creatures that do well when kept in cages or in aviaries. They can be rather territorial however, and will need plenty of personal space. They can be easily tamed with very little effort. They form permanent pairs and mates do well if kept together.
   See About Doves & Pigeons: Social Behaviors for more information on social behaviors of doves and pigeons.

Activities:
   If kept in a cage, they should be let out daily for some free time to exercise. They are not known to be strong fliers and will be content to just flutter here and there and then will quickly settle down.

Breeding/Reproduction:    White Doves are easy to breed, but are not usually community breeders unless there is a lot of room. They will do best in their own cage and it can be relatively small. They are rather flimsy nest builders so it is best to provide them with an open nesting container.
   They can be bred as early as 6 months of age. They will lay two eggs which hatch after about 14 days. The young will stay in the nest for about 4 weeks or so. The parents can lay a new clutch of eggs every six weeks but this is very unhealthy for the birds. It is recommended that they only produce 3 to 5 clutches a year. You can remove the nesting materials or separate the birds to control this.
   See About Doves & Pigeons: Breeding/Reproduction for more information on breeding.

Potential Problems:   These birds are hardy and healthy if provided with a good environment and a good diet. Avoid an environment that is wet, cool, and drafty.
   See About Doves & Pigeons: Potential Problems for information on health.

Availability: White Doves are readily available. Usually available at pet stores, but can also be found through bird shows, bird clubs or breeders.

Author: Clarice Brough, CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on White Dove


Susanne Siebrase - 2014-11-08
I have a question. A white dove came to our yard in Northern Indiana this summer. We want to provide shelter and protection through the winter. Can you offer recommendations?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-11-13
    That is very cool. Here's a link to the housing section of our Dove and Pigeon Care page. Under that section there is information about the types of dove cotes you can put up that could help him winter... possibly a wall cote or pole cote would work for you.
Reply
Jim Gray - 2014-10-11
Hello, Several months ago I bought two white doves and in the last week the female dove has been nesting. I tried to give the doves straw for their nest but they are content on sitting in the food bowl. The other night she laid an egg and then yesterday she laid a second one. She sits over the eggs most of the day and night and only leaves them for a while for food water or some exercise. The male dove sits with her but never sits over the eggs to keep them warm and sometimes she sits over one egg and discards the other one like there is a problem with it. Should this concern me?. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Regards Jim

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-10-11
    Wow, that's very cool. I wouldn't be too concerned, as it sounds like the female is doing great and the male dove is doing what male dove's do... hanging out near by. These birds can quickly detect if an egg is bad/ If she continues to ignore and egg and keep it away, you could just remove it. But wait for a while to make sure that's the signal she's giving.
  • Jim Gray - 2014-10-15
    You were right, they are now covering both the eggs and great news is the mail dove is spending half the time on the eggs to give the female dove a break. It is amazing how they learn all these things themselves, I am excited about having a baby dove.
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hailey booth - 2008-10-02
One day riding my bike on the golf green I saw a tiny white bird sitting in the green grass. I was instantly drawn to it and realised it was a white dove. I started to pet it and realised it wasn't trying to fly off. Picking it up I realised its feather were wet and it couldn't really fly. I picked him up and put him in my bike basked and we rode home 3 miles. I was impressed with its ability to sit and ride so quietely without fuss. She has since became my most favored pet and I named her Chmpagne Hope. She rides with me everyday now on the edge of the basket looking around and enjoying the freedom of riding versus flying I'm sure, for which she is still weak. I encourage her to fly around, let her sit in the sun everyday, and don't believe in caging her. So she goes all over the apartment, though she does perch herself next to me every night next to my bed. To look after me I'm sure, as I believe she is my spirit guide. What a beautiful and unexpected blessing!

  • kram acoon - 2010-04-12
    Hi. I just wanted to ask you some q since you transpire to have some knowledge in doves. We have these large doves with fluffy neck feathers which i don't know the species or the breed. One problem is that they don't use the perches and are picky on food. Any recommendations? Are they suitable to let free outside for exercise and would still come back? We just acquired them 2 weeks ago. Please help.
  • Eli - 2014-08-18
    How do you deal with her poop?
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Wynn Smith - 2007-02-19
Generally when people use the term "white dove" they are referring to a bird that can be used for ceremonial release. We must educate people on this subject. Too many people are releasing domesticated ringneck doves into the wild where they can't survive and they die. A better alternative is one of white homing pigeons referred to as a "Release Dove" or "Release Duv". These birds are bred for their homing ability and return safely home after a release. A "Release Dove" is typically a white racing pigeon that is as big and muscled as a typical racing pigeon. These are bred to race home as quickly as possible. In contrast, a "Release Duv" is not a racing pigeon, but a smaller white pigeon with homing ability, that has been specifically bred for ceremonial release. They tend to be tamer, smaller, and a bit more onamental. They circle well and they return home from long distances, having been crossed with endurance breeds such as the tippler.

  • Eli - 2014-08-17
    How can you tell the difference? I have been caring for a smaller white bird who was found hurt in my drive by a neighbor. Knowing that I had pigeons, he thought this bird was one of my own. But this bird is much smaller, delicate, and more fearful. I am really trying to figure out what he needs and how to help.
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kelly - 2012-12-26
how much is your white dove and is it a female

Reply
Christi - 2011-09-11
I recently obtained a white dove from someone that nursed it back to health. He is very friendly and I would like to find him a friend to keep him company. I think maybe a female as I'm not sure if two males can live together peacefully. If anyone has any leads on a white female dove in the St. Louis, Mo. or Southern Western Illinois Please respond.

  • Anonymous - 2011-09-12
    Wll do but check the Classifeids and Craigs List in your area.
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Kative - 2011-10-19
I noticed you recommended pet stores and breeders as sources to get doves, but I got mine from my local shelter. There are also lots of bird rescues who try to re-home birds. It would be great to see more of these options promoted. Thanks!

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-10-20
    Thank you for mentioning that. There are perfectly wonderful, gorgeous and tame birds in many shelters throughout the United States. These birds might take a little more attention intitially but are worth every minute of it.
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