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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In my village feral white doves (no relative!) are a menace, they swamp bird tables and feeders driving off wild birds, their droppings foul conservatory roofs and... (more)  Malcolm Dove

   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.


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


Malcolm Dove - 2015-05-07
In my village feral white doves (no relative!) are a menace, they swamp bird tables and feeders driving off wild birds, their droppings foul conservatory roofs and house roofs and gutters, and also they create muddy patches on grass areas. I need a gun! The BTO class them as 'feral pigeons'.

Reply
Carol Vander Zee Boverhof - 2015-04-14
This winter a white dove came into our barn and has been there ever since, I feed her bird seed and she seems to love being by the water when I fill the horse tank. She will fly in a circle around the barn which is beautiful, and come right back, she sleeps in the rafters. it was extremely cold here in Michigan this winter and she did just fine. she has a pink band on her leg. She is free to fly away but has stuck around. is there anything special I should do?

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-04-16
    Sounds like you're doing a great job. Being free flying, she can vary her diet and habitat as she needs, but seems quite happy with you. Thanks for your story!
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Mohamed Ali - 2015-03-16
I love doves.

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sally - 2006-04-30
This is the story of our first dove that happened in the summer of 2005:

My daughter, packing for her move back into our home, was standing in her kitchen with the kitchen door to her deck open. She looked up just as a white dove landed gently upon the railing of the deck. She was stunned, and just stood there watching it for a whole five minutes, too afraid to move lest she frighten it away. Instead of it being scared off, it just began preening and cooing. So she carefully crept outside, with water and food, and tiptoed over, very slowly. Again instead of being frightened away, it just continued preening and cooing. She stayed frozen in place for another five minutes. Finally, realizing that it was not really frightened of her at all, she crept nearer and just placed her hands over it, gently cupped the sweet bird in her palm, and brought it inside.

My daughter brought it home to me after stopping just long enought to purchase some supplies. My daughters had brought me another bird once, our past favorite, a magpie. That time i had been asking for a baby raven. Magpies are the smallest member of the raven family. Recently i had begun "asking for" (intending) another baby raven, even if it ended up being not exactly a member of the raven family. I knew in my heart that something was on its way, but I had no idea this was what it was--and i am VERY pleased. She is the most tame and sweet-natured bird i have ever had. She insists on attention. She seems to be broody (ready to sit on eggs - i don't know if you're a country girl or not), and loves bits of "people" food, bits of corn, etc., especially when we feed it to her ourselves.

Right after i wrote the above (the day it happened) i went to look again at this beautiful bird. In the space of time that i wrote, she had laid an egg. That was it. I officially named her "Lily". Now, Lily is a free-flying member of our family. I have four more that i purchased from a pet store and have prepared a dovecote for them. I want to encourage the breeding of these birds because of the visual statement they make for love, peace, and beauty.

  • Bonnie Clement - 2014-05-12
    I am 53 and was named White Dove when I was 17. It has been my cab handle since then.I love them and I have a white dove that comes and eats with our chickens, does and other wild birds here. Thank you for your stories.
  • Bonnie Clement - 2014-05-12
    I am 53 and was named White Dove when I was 17. It has been my cab handle since then.I love them and I have a white dove that comes and eats with our chickens, does and other wild birds here. Thank you for your stories.
  • Michele - 2015-01-17
    Hi Sally, was wondering where you are located and wanted to know if you would like to have two more beautiful white doves. My grandma cannot keep them any more. She is unfortunately losing her memory and cannot care for them any longer. They need a good home where they are free to fly around and get exercise. Please email me at Micheleblue17@rocketmail.com. Thanks
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kelly - 2012-12-26
how much is your white dove and is it a female

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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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