Diamond Doves Contents:
Diamond Dove Basics
Flight Breeding versus Individual Cage Breeding
Color Explosion in the Diamond Dove
The Diamond Dove – The Easy Breeding Bird
American dove association guide to Diamond dove care.
Flight Breeding versus Individual Cage Breeding
by John Pire
Part 1 – Flight Breeding
This article was first written by me back in May 1987. The article dealt with my experiences, observations and the conclusions of ten years experience in keeping the Diamond Doves in a "Flight Breeding" and "Individual Cage Breeding Situations". I have kept the Diamond Dove for over twenty-five years now and they are still one of my favorite species of exotic doves and pigeons.
I use these two terms, "flight breeding" and "individual cage breeding", in this and several other articles. The meaning I associate with these two terms are as follows: FLIGHT BREEDING is a situation where more then one pair of the same species of dove are kept in the same flight or aviary for the purpose of propagating them. This situation can also apply to pairs of different species of doves kept in the same flight or aviary. INDIVIDUAL CAGE BREEDING is a situation where only a single pair of doves is kept in a flight or cage for the purpose of propagating them.
What is considered a flight cage, aviary or cage? My interpolations are: a flight or aviary, are "cages" which someone can walk into. A cage is "cage" which someone cannot walk into. I have friends, each having a different type of set-up: one friend in PA keeps her Diamonds in a mixed "aviary" indoors & allows the birds free flight when she is present; another friend in CA utilizes a side of the mountain as one side of the flight. The flight is as large as a football field and houses many different species of doves/pigeons, including 10 to 15 pairs of Diamond Doves; another friend in New Zealand has outdoor flights & allows all her doves "free flight" in her garden and surrounding "bush".
Lets get into the sexing of Diamond Doves. The observations and statements are from personal experiences with Diamonds kept in outdoor and indoor flights/cages. This information should help so that you set-up "true" males and females and not same sex pairs. The Diamond Dove is considered to be a slightly dimorphic species when referring to the wild "blue" Diamond Dove.
I will not delve into the different color mutations now being bred. With the advent of the many colors being bred in the Diamond Dove the body color of the bird is no longer as useful in identifying the sex of the bird. Although there is a color mutation, rarely seen now, which is a true dimorphic color. Meaning that males are one color and the females are another. It is the Dimorphic Cinnamon and was first imported from Canada into the US by Bill Rees of California. The Yellow Diamond also has a bit of color dimorphism between the sexes. Bill can be credited with bringing into the US a number of the new color mutations from Europe or Canada in the 80's and early 90's.
The first importation of wild caught Diamond Doves from Australia occurred about 1925. All the birds in the shipment were the wild color or as they were called "Blue Diamond Doves". Sexing was quite easy; hens had much more of a brown coloration across the back & neck area then the males. Two more shipments of Diamond Doves arrived from Australia. These shipment contained the first known color mutation seen in Diamond Doves. About half of the birds in both of the shipments were a "light grey" color. This first color mutation quickly became known as the "Silver Diamond Doves". All of the shipments arrived in Los Angeles, CA. The first shipment was said to contain about 100 Diamond Doves, the last two shipments combined contained about 100 birds.
Since importations/arrivals of birds back then were quite different then they are now most of the actual documentation or records of these arrivals were lost. To date (2001) these are the ONLY two known shipments of Diamond Doves directly coming from Australia into the United States. With the ease and willingness of these first "imported" birds to reproduce it was not feasible to bring them into the US any more.
Yes, there were further shipments of Diamond Doves into the U.S., but these originated in Europe and Canada and eventually the color mutations made it to the US. Many of the newer color mutations being developed in Europe were brought into Canada by the renowned dove fancier Don Adams, who shared these beautiful new colors with other Diamond Dove fanciers. Another fancier, Garrie Landry imported several of the color mutations into the US and propagated them. Perry Candianides is credited with developing the Yellow Whitetail Diamond.
Sexing Diamond Doves consists of simple observations and comparisons of the "eye ceres". This is the bare skin surrounding the eye of the bird. There are exceptions to these "rules". Conditions, feed, surroundings, etc can all be factors in the growth and physical appearance of the bird and thus may not follow these observations.
Trying to determine the sex of the birds is best when they have attained at least 6 months of age or have gone through the juvenile to pre-adult plumage molt. Between 6 and 12 months of age is when the male's cere begins to enlarge. Remember outside factors, as stated above, may affect this cere development.
Click on this link to view pictures of the "eye ceres".
Most mature adult male Diamond Doves will have larger, fleshier looking and many times a brighter colored eye cere then the adult female Diamond. Females with large brightly colored ceres do occur, as do males with small dull colored ceres. The coloration of the eye cere cannot always be accurate for sexing males from females. The cere coloration can vary greatly from one bird to the next regardless of sex. These facets can be due to breeding linage or even outside factors as stated above. A male DD kept indoors, with full spectrum lighting and everything else the bird needs when kept indoors, for a year will have a different looking eye cere then a male kept in an outdoor flight with access to the direct sunlight etc., whether they be from the same parents or not. Older male and female Diamonds do sometimes grow quite enlarged eye ceres. These enlarged ceres can become infected.
The "flight cage" or "aviary" can be of any size which suits your tastes and available space. One thing I have learned, build the flights to your needs to facilitate cleaning or any other chore you may need to do within the confines of the flight. The birds will adapt to what you supply them to live in.
I often tell fanciers who build outdoor flights to cover the tops of the flights. This keeps wild birds from perching on the open tops and leaving their dropping inside your flights & thus exposing your birds to many diseases the wild birds may carry. Also, doves have a "predator instinct" in which they fly straight upwards with great force. If the tops are not covered the "wire" may become invisible when the birds take "flight" in this instinctual behavior. The birds can be severely injured and death can also occur from broken necks in these headlong flights.
All my outdoor flights are made from treated lumber and covered with ½" hardware cloth wire. This size keeps a great many varmints out of the flights. If I build any more flights I will utilize the ¼" hardware cloth wire instead of the ½" size. Mice and small snakes can go through the ½" wire.
Utilize many different sizes for the perches within the flight. Make sure the perches are firmly secured and that none are directly over any feed or water containers. Perches can be wood dowels, thick ropes (doves do not utilize the rope perches much but any finches in the flight will), branches, ripped lumber of varying sizes. Even homemade wooden platforms can be used. Rough perches are much better then smooth or slick perches.
If several pairs of birds are to be housed in the flight it is a good idea to supply a couple of feed and water containers, with each being in a different location. This cuts down on the chances of a dominant bird or pair from keeping other pairs or young from obtaining feed and water.
Diamond Doves will utilize most any type of container for laying their clutch of eggs and raising their young. They do prefer to use open top containers. I have used such things as: tea strainers, plastic and wicker Canary nests, clean tuna or cat food cans, the typical hanging seed cups, homemade wire baskets or wooden platforms, even the removable bottoms of the 2 liter soda water bottles. The Diamonds have also used 6" wicker baskets for the larger doves in the flight. One pair, in my planted flight, even built the typical "dove" nest of a few twigs in the privet bush and raised their family.
It is best to provide at least two containers for each pair of birds in the flight. This cuts down on interference and gives the pair a second nest in which to begin the next clutch while the previous young are still in the old nest. There is not a height preference; each pair will pick a suitable area and defend their territory from others. Place the containers are different heights and areas of the flight. Ensure that all nest containers are securely attached and that they remain level during the nesting process. The wicker type Canary nests do not have very good wire hangers and soon begin to sag under the weight of the nesting birds. Providing some sort of support under these types of nests is advisable. Click on this link to see my "nest supports"
Supplying the Diamond Doves with nesting materials is simple; many items can be used. Soft dried grasses, hay, straw, soft pine needles (white pine needles are ideal for the Diamonds), small pliable twigs etc., can be given in sizable amounts where all the nesting pairs can select what they feel is needed. Not all birds will make the ideal nest, some will use too much material and others will only use a few pieces.
I utilize the Flight Breeding system on several of my Diamond Dove pairs. I feel the flight situation is beneficial to them. They have flight room to exercise. I like to see several pair interacting as they might do in the wild. It is a wonderful sight to see a pair raising their family or sunning themselves in the sunlight. One thing I do advocate is the removal of the young Diamonds when they are on their own. If left in the flight they soon mature and can cause interference with the established pairs.
I promote this system for those fanciers who are not concerned with developing a color mutation or needing to keep accurate records on the birds. I have listed my pros & cons of this system below.
PROS: plenty of flight room for strong bird; less cleaning time for the fancier; watching the interactions of a Diamond pair and their offspring; watch the beautiful courtship displays of the males; many times the young males can be sexed before they finish the "ten week" molt. The young males tend to show or try their breeding prowess with other young or their parents.
CONS: there is no control over which male breeds which hen. Yes, females will allow another male to breed them in this type of breeding system. Many times the bonded pair male will not allow this male to share incubation or rearing of the chicks, but the hen may accept this different male's advances while she is off the nest duties. If a new color mutation appears there is no way to accurately say which birds are responsible. Multiple eggs are laid in the same nest, thus causing the different pairs to fight over the right to set the eggs. Eggs or young can be knocked from the nest in such fighting. The possibility of two eggs remaining in such chosen sites and hatching is compromised. Eggs can be abandoned after a pair is chased from the chosen nest site. Hatchlings can be trampled by adult birds squabbling over the nest.
In closing this article, adapt the basics found here to your personal situation in your quest to propagate these beautiful doves. Part two of the article discusses the Individual Cage Breeding experiences with Diamond Doves.
Flight Breeding versus Individual Cage Breeding
by John Pire
Part Two – Individual Cage Breeding
In part one of my article I dealt with the "flight breeding" of more then one pair of Diamond Doves in a cage or flight situation. In this article I will deal with my experiences over the last twenty-five plus years of keeping these small doves in an individual cage breeding situation.
The individual cage system consists on a single pair of Diamond Doves set-up in any size flight or cage the fancier wants to house them in. This can be from a "double Canary breeding" cage to a walk in flight of any size. The thing to remember is, ONLY a single pair of breeding DD are housed in each situation.
When you set-up the individual cages you have all the control. Which birds will be paired, how many clutches they will be allowed to raise, placement of perches, feed & water cups etc.
One thing I try to stress is if more then one of the breeding cages are set up next to one another it is best to put some type of solid partition between the cages. This will keep the birds from being disturbed by the pair in the next cage. This type of distraction can be cause for neglected eggs or young. It can also lead to the male's aggression to it's own young or his mate.
I prefer keeping individual pairs of Diamond Doves in the breeder cages or flights. I use cages from 18 inches wide by 18 inches high by 30 inches long to 5 feet by 8 feet by 10 feet. Each of the walk-in flights house other species of birds or doves.
I use the wicker Canary nests for the nesting Diamond Doves. One does not have to use these types of containers, in fact many times the birds will choose the seed cup as their chosen nest site. Most any type of open top container can be used for a DD nest. A word of caution: ensure that any container used is securely affixed to the cage and remains as level as possible.
A sagging or loose nest can be the cause of eggs or young knocked to the floor. I have seen Diamonds build the front of a sagging nest container to over 1 inch above the rim, trying to make the nest as level as possible. The eggs were completely covered with the added nesting material. I know what you are saying – limit the amount of materials & then the birds cannot add any more. This is not always possible in a flight with other nesting birds. In a small breeder cage, yes it is possible to control the amount of nesting materials.
The point is – if this keeps occurring then the eggs become chilled & the embryo will die, as the eggs are not incubated properly. So, begin doing things right – secure all containers as level as possible. This may necessitate adding some type of support under the nests. Pictures of some typical DD nests & nest supports.
Placement of the feed & water containers in any situation should be in the open & not under any perch or ledge where the birds can defecate into them. Perches should be of varying sizes and placement.
At least one perch should be affixed secure enough for the birds to mate on. One explanation for infertility in the birds is the male is not making good contact during breeding. Many times the cage is too small & the sides of the cage interfere with the breeding ritual. Also many times in these situations the pair will try & breed while on the floor of the cage. This also hampers the effectiveness of the male to make contact & fertilize the hen's eggs. Yes, some fertility will occur but the end result if the situation is not improved will be reduced.
The facet of eye cere thickness & coloration for sexing males & females is not 100% accurate. Diamonds kept indoors with artificial lights or full spectrum lights can have the eye ceres condition affected for color and thickness of both sexes. Body coloration can also be affected to a certain degree.
I need to stress another factor here! A good record keeping system needs to be utilized! If good record keeping is not done, closely related birds can be paired & the result may be something you did not expect. There are now computer programs to aid the fancier in this chore. There is also the old pen, pad and ledger for those not into computers. Which ever suits your taste, please utilize it & keep the records. Visit and you can download some very useable forms to keep your records on.
After you have selected the pair you want to breed, introduce them to their new home. Give them a few days to become accustomed to the new surroundings. Sexing of adult Diamonds was discussed in the first article. Sexing young Diamonds takes a bit of close observation by the fancier, but can be done fairly accurately.
One must remember birds do not always fall into any one description. Not all males have larger, thicker & brighter eye ceres then the females. This is the believed standard, but exceptions always exist. Each line of Diamond Doves can vary from each other, even to the point of birds in the same lineage varying.
Sexing juvenile Diamonds can be done if one takes the time & close observation of the birds. One of the easiest sexing tips of the young male DD is after they have fledged and are about three months old. These young males will try & imitate their father. You will see them climb on top of their parents (either sex) & imitate the "quick jump off ritual" preformed by the male before the act of mating. I have never seen young female perform this ritual. Record this information along with your band information for this particular bird.
Another tip for sexing young DD is to look closely at the eye ceres of the youngsters – there is a difference in the actual shape of the cere. If you look at adult male & female you will see a marked difference in the shape of the cere towards the back side. One is rounded & one is pointed. This shape is also present in the youngsters, before it begins to thicken & color up. Many say they do not see this difference, but with more observations and comparisons the difference can be seen. Now, remember – the difference may not be very pronounced, but it does exist.
The genetics of the Diamond Dove is relatively non-existent, when compared to the genetics of the Ringneck Dove. I know of no sex-linked color mutations being bred in the Diamond Dove. The "whiterump gene is dominate – or may be considered co-dominate with the Wild type or Blue color. This means only a single visual whiterump bird is needed to reproduce this visual mutation in offspring. The "whitetail" gene is a selective situation of the "whiterump gene"; no color should be present in any of the tail feathers. The "whiterump" gene is the basic gene, coloration can be found in any of the tail feathers. Both have the typical "whiterump". Jeff Downing's book on Diamond Doves is a good source for the color mutations being bred in this small dove. It can be obtain from his web site () or the ADA.
Utilizing the single breeding units for Diamonds gives the fancier more control over each pair of birds. Certain birds can be paired together; close observations of eggs, young and adults can be done. Record keeping is easier then if using a flight breeding system. Working to unravel the genetics or develop a possible new color is better controlled. Can control or limit the number of clutches for each pair. If for some reason the bird becomes sick it can be treated easier & no other birds are infected, as would be in a flight breeding situation.
"FARBEXPLOSION BIEM DIAMANTTAUBCHEN"
(Color Explosion in the Diamond Dove)
Oppenborn,G. 1985 Geflugel-Borse #18 p 11
This article was received from D. Rinehart in Ohio back in 1985. It was translated; from the original German article; by W.F. Hollander & printed in the IDS bulletin. Since this article more color mutations have appeared and some understanding of the genetics has occurred.
"In recent years the Diamond Dove has become so popular, and with some new mutations, that a write up has become needed.
In it's native Australia the 19-20 cm. dove loves the sun, therefore it can't be considered winter hardy here (Germany).
The first introduction to Europe was in 1868, and into Germany in 1875. In the same year, Dr. K. Russ succeeded in getting the first breeding. Since 1890 they have been bred continuously at the Berlin Zoo. Breeding is relatively simple, and the doves take almost every opportunity to nest. Incubation is 12 to 13 days and the babies get out of the nest at 11 or 12 days. Rearing is usually no problem.
The recognized colors are wild color, silver and brilliant. A new mutant in recent years is the white-rump. The white-rump can be with each of the main colors. Some mixed colors have resulted from unsuitable mating and have been given some unsuitably fantastic names. But such mixed colors should be weeded out because they can't be successful in shows.
Further, there are white-tailed and white-flighted birds, usually along with the white-rump and in all three colors.
The Isabel color is now fixed and some Isabel birds have a beautiful reddish appearance. Isabel is inherited dominate over brilliant.
All of the above color classes have the normal wing markings, that is, two white round dots on each feather, but there may be instead, tips and lacing.
Then there are pied birds but not yet well marked. They should be fifty-fifty.
Brown (cinnamon), grey, and even yellow varieties are said to exist, but so far only in the rumors – kitchen!
Also so far no pure whites exist. Birds that approach it (white) are only very light brilliants, with red eyes, and their wings still show faint markings.
The diamond dove breeders or at least some of them should be coaxed to prepare a breeding textbook. Then the whys and wherefores could be better understood".
Post script by the editor (Reichenbach): Mixed colors or intermediate patterns or color types result from the combination of non-allelic mutant genes or by selection of changed color types, e.g. the brilliant. Each mutant should be tested with wild type to see whether the segregation occurs according to Mendalian laws, or whether it is irregular.
Post post script: White rump birds have a somewhat lighter ground color than self-colored birds.
Note by W.F. Hollander: silver = dilute?, brilliant = milky?, cinnamon?"
The Diamond Dove – The Easy Breeding Bird
by David D Smith
This article was reprinted in the IDS newsletter. It originally was printed in the ACBM (American Cage Bird Magazine) back in the mid 1970's.
Anyone who has seen the Diamond Dove will agree that it is an attractive bird. The books all say that the Diamond is completely sociable with other birds, except possibly with other small doves, and that this dove is a very easy bird to breed. The impression one gets from the books is that one could hardly prevent them from breeding – even by withholding nest bowls – "they will nest in the seed dishes."
For nearly three years I could not have agreed less with such assessments. I bought Diamond Doves – waited – bought new ones – waited – and waited again. No eggs even. Since that time I have raised many dozens of Diamond Doves. Now I must agree that the book writers are correct. The Diamond Dove is a very prolific bird; indeed, a healthy, true pair can hardly be prevented from breeding.
Why was I – and many others I have talked with – unsuccessful? After discussing the Diamond Dove in general, I will conclude with some thoughts on the probable causes of failure with these birds.
Native to Australia. The Diamond Dove ranks as the most popular bird of Australian origin after the Budgie, Cockatiel & Zebra Finch. Like these others it is thoroughly domesticated. All imports from Australia have stopped so long ago that the bird you might buy has been in captivity for dozens of generations.
During a visit with Dave West of Montebello, California, in December, 1971, I learned from him when the ancestors of our Diamonds must have arrived. West says that the first shipments of Diamonds (normal colored birds) were imported from Australia into Los Angeles about 1925. They fetched a fancy price in the neighborhood of $125 a pair. Not many were ever imported since they proved to be so prolific that the demand was soon met by Los Angeles area aviculturists. Unless there were East Coast importations that we know nothing about, this means that the many thousands of Diamond Doves in the country today, and perhaps those of Europe as well, are all descended from these original shipments imported some 50 years ago. The silver-colored mutation of the diamond was first imported from Australia some 20 to 25 years ago. Dave West recalls that only two shipments were ever received, some months apart; a total of only 40 to 50 birds. The price ran about $70 a pair. In one shipment the males had very prominent and fleshy rings around the eyes. In the other the males had eye rings not much more developed than the females. In one shipment the silvers were reputed to be simple recessive to the normal colored bird. In the other the silvers were supposed to be recessive & sex-linked. West is not aware that this sex-linkage was ever proven out by breeding experiments. Should anyone have other information on importations of Diamond Doves I would be very interested to hear of it.
Maintenance of the Diamond Dove is very simple. Drinking water & grit are essential, of course. Dave West feels that providing broken-up pieces of cuttlebone is also an essential. Small millets seem to be the favorite seed. I provide a wild bird mix with no sunflower seed, which has a variety of small seeds & a little milo. A finch mix is satisfactory but more expensive. Diamonds definitely will eat greens (Romaine lettuce, in my case) especially when feeding babies. They have been observed to eat soaked bread & corn on the cob which has been provided for Cockatiels.
Whereas I have never seen a Diamond take a water bath, sunbathing is a passion. Birds kept indoors will be deprived of this, and might benefit from cod live roil to supply the vitamin D the bird might have gotten from the sunbathing (assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that birds can absorb this vitamin as humans do).
Housing is not a problem since Diamonds can be kept with the finch collection. I have never noted Diamonds to be aggressive towards other birds than their own species, or other small dove species. The problem is more likely to be the other birds bothering the Diamonds. They are quite compatible with Cockatiels, for instance, but a Cockatiels idle chewing can make short work of a Diamond's nest!
The Diamond should, in my opinion, be considered an aviary bird. They are not active birds – not given to flitting from perch to perch – and it might be anticipated that they would grow too fat if given no opportunities for free flight at all. I have no doubt they could, and are being, cage bred; but considering that this bird is given to swift & direct flight, they would appear to be better provided for with at least six feet of flying room. Probably an indoor cage four feet long, with perches only at opposite ends, would serve.
So far as temperature is concerned, the Diamond is surely as tough as the hardiest member of your collection.
Breeding the Diamond Dove is rather predictable. The main feature of courtship is the male bowing & cooing before the hen, with his crop moderately inflated with air; he spreads his elevated tail with each bow & coo.
Virtually any nesting receptacle will serve. I presently use plastic berry baskets from the market. The basket is mounted on an L-shaped bracket, such that the basket is held about four inches from the wall. This protects the tail of the sitting bird. The basket is provided nearly full of dried grass, or with a folded & shaped piece of burlap. Higher nests are preferred to lower, and if a branch or piece of palm can hide the nest from direct view, so much the better. In a planted aviary, wire netting platforms secured in the bushes might serve as bases for nests.
A pair that is ready to nest will persist whether suitable nests are available or not. I have noted birds to crawl into finch boxes (whose holes had been enlarged by chewing Cockatiels) where they could not turn around. One pair nested in a bowl of sunflower seeds. This year a pair nested successfully atop a clump of grass, barely seven inches from the ground.
Two pure white oval-shaped eggs will be laid; the second two days after the first. The adults cove the eggs from the start, but do not sit tight before the second egg is laid, causing both eggs to hatch together on the thirteenth day. The blind, down-covered babies grow rapidly & leave the nest about two weeks later. The parents who share in all phases of the breeding operation, are quite attentive to the youngsters after they leave the nest & will feed them for a week & more thereafter. Fidelity to their fledgling babies makes the Diamond valuable to the foreign dove breeder as foster parents, since many foreign doves neglect babies that have left the nest.
By the time one clutch leaves the nest it is likely that the hen will be laying again. Some pairs will produce two babies a month with great reliability; skipping only a month or two during the year. The silver Diamonds, depending on the strain, may be very likely to produce only one baby in a nesting, the other egg being clear. Because the silvers seem less robust in general, most breeders mate silvers to split-silvers (normal colored birds that had one silver parent), which mating will produce 50% silvers & 50% split silvers. The cooing of these doves – especially maturing & unmated males – may at times become fairly persistent, but to me has not been unwelcome. It is not likely that the neighbors would object.
Colony breeding: My experience has been that with more than one breeding pair per pen there will soon appear four or more eggs in a nest. Even though there are more than enough nests to go around, two or three hens choose to lay in the same nest; more eggs result than can be covered (even though two birds may sit at the same time) and each egg is chilled in turn before it can hatch. For this reason I have found colony breeding about useless & prefer to keep one pair per pen. Given a superabundance of nests perhaps this can be avoided. Even then, unless banding is resorted to (budgie bands are just the right size, by the way) you will shortly lose track, or perhaps never know which birds produced which babies.
Fighting will be observed when more than one pair are kept together, but no real harm ever seems to come of it.
Babies left with their parents become breeding pairs with amazing quickness. I have recorded hens laying at two months; though four or more months is more likely.
Colors of the Diamond Dove. The original, or normal-colored Diamond Dove is mainly a grey blue above with pearl grey undersides. The silver mutation is grey above, without the blue tints of the normal, but with the same light grey undersides. There are silvers seen occasionally which are significantly lighter in color than most – approaching a white. I am not aware that these lighter shades have been established as a true breeding strain. Yet, it is noted that certain European bird sellers offer a "new mutation" of the silver (variously called "scintillating," "glittering" and "brilliant") for stiff prices. In color transparencies, they appear to be simply light-colored silvers. Several other color mutations have been seen.
Dave West once bred a pure white "silver" (but not an albino), which died before it could be reproduced. The late Bob Dalton of Arrow Bird Farm, Fontana, California told me of being shown a white Diamond.
Paul Norine of Citrus Heights, California reported (March 1972, ACBM), with an accompanying picture, a light buff colored, pink-eyed "albino," bred in his aviaries from normal colored parents. At last word (letter dated 3/9/72) Norine ha snot been able to breed from this bird.
Recently I have heard of a strain of pied Diamonds that existed in the Los Angeles area, but I have not been able to assure that they still exist. These were normal colored birds splotched with white.
It seems inevitable that many other variations on the basic silver & normal colored Diamonds exists in unknown private aviaries.
Sexing the Diamond Dove may or may not be easy. Mature males are likely to have a more prominent & fleshy eye ring than any female, but not all males are so equipped. In the normal colored Diamond the female will generally be more brownish across the back. A hen in fine laying condition will have the pubic bones spaced an eight of an inch or more apart. The mature male will have no space between the pubic bones, ordinarily. Immature birds may have these bones move about a good deal from day to day. A bird which coos a good bit is probably a male. If it displays, it certainly is a male. The size of the diamond spots has been mentioned as useful in sexing, and while these spots do have variable sizes at times between birds, I have never been able to correlate this with sex. It should be stressed that all observations will fail if the birds are immature or much out of condition. For sexing purposes I consider a bird much less than a year old as immature & likely to fool me.
Why aren't your Diamond Doves producing? Naturally you have made sure the birds are healthy & well fed & protected from undue disturbance. If your Diamonds are not breeding the most likely reason is that you do not have a true pair. Incompatible pairs that breed slowly, or not at all, are found but are very rare. Consider this test: Very young birds will have eye rings of a greyish orange color. Reasonably mature birds, unless badly out of condition (when their ceres fade to a pink flesh color), will have a bright red eye ring. If your birds have nice red eye rings, and have been that way for, say six months – and still have not bred – they surely must not be a pair. Should you live in colder climates & keep the birds inside for part of the year, perhaps you need to be more tolerant of slow developments and wait for one full summer after you are sure the birds are fully matured.
This further advice has been offered to me. If your non-producing "pair" is not heard to coo much they are both hens. If much cooing is heard but no eggs result, they are both males. Two males will display to each other whereas two hens will not.
Another problem may be that the birds are "over the hill." One breeder I spoke with said he bred his doves continuously until the production began to decline, and then sold them off. One could end up with such "exhausted" birds; not that Diamonds are short-lived at all. Dave West has a pair of Diamonds that he had ten years ago, and which still produce; only now they have more of clear eggs & single clutches than before.
Two pairs maintained at all well should produce. If yours do not, while getting reasonable care, why not replace them with other stock that might find your care more to their liking?
Maybe I should be more cautious & admit that unidentified chance events may help or hinder in quiet ways when the timing is right. Let me refer you to the words of Mr. Jean Delacour, an aviculturist of world renown, writing in the Avicultural Magazine (Jan-Feb 1972, p 32); "Luck plays a great part in bird breeding successes. One cannot make a poor pair nest; but of course it is easy to stop a good one from doing so."
The Diamond Dove requires less "luck" than many other birds.
The Diamond Dove
This article was printed in the IDS newsletter in the1980's & was sent in by Piel Voets who was Chairman of AVIORNIS INTERNATIONAL (Holland) which is an association for Dove, Pheasant & Waterfowl Breeders.
The first import of the Diamond Dove was in 1869 by the London Zoo. This zoo also had the first breeding result. On the Continent the first breeding was by Von Hagenbeck & Russ in Germany. Both of these gentlemen were breeding the Diamond Dove in 1875. Because of the increase in numbers imported & their steady breeding you can find these doves in most aviaries & I snow quite domesticated like the Zebra Finch. There are now many mutations of this dove like Fawn, White-tailed, White-rumped, Yellow-wing, Red, etc. The Red & Yellow-wing coming from breeders in South Africa. And it is possible that the range of color will go on increasing.
ADULT MALE: The head, neck & breast are light blue-grey; the upper & back are brown-grey; the abdomen is creamy-white; the tail & central feathers are brown-grey; the next outer pair of tail feathers is tipped with white, the others whole distal half is white; the wing coverts & scapulars are brown-grey, spotted with small irregular white spots with black edges; the primaries, leading edge & tin are brown-grey, the remainder is chestnut; on the underside of the wing, the chestnut primaries have brown-grey tips; the secondaries are blue-grey. The bill is dark grey; the iris is orange with bright orbital skin; this skin color intensifies in the breeding season; the legs & feet are pink.
ADULT FEMALE: The female is similar to the male but has more brown suffusion on all grey parts; the orbital skin is less bright.
The bowing display is similar to those of the other members of this genus but is delivered more vigorously. The display is usually preformed on the ground but is also given in trees or perches. In the bowing display the male bird stands with body raised & neck erect, wings & tail closed. The breast is lowered suddenly so that it comes close to, but does not touch, the ground. The body & tail swing up to a vertical position. As movement proceeds, the wings are raised & partly opened & the tail is fully fanned so that the feathers stand out separately. Then the bird returns to the position of rest.
The Diamond Dove covers the whole of Australia with most in the center & north. They live in arid savannahs where the temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius.
The Diamond Dove is at the moment one of the most common numerous doves that appear in aviaries. The reason is that this Dove is very docile & it is easy to breed them. It is even possible to breed these dove sin individual cages. It is always better to keep pairs separate or they tend to squabble when there are several pairs, resulting in disturbed incubation & broken eggs. The Diamond Dove can be kept outdoors but I prefer to ensure that during the winter that they have frost free accommodations. The nest of the Diamond Dove is very flimsy, the best way is to provide small baskets (like Canary baskets). Nesting material can take the form of coconut fibers or coarse grasses. The female lays two white eggs. The cock sits during the day & the hen sits the evening & night times. Incubation period is 13 to 14 days & the young leave the nest after about another 14 days. This dove makes excellent parents & breed quite regularly. When young leave the nest they have stripes across the breast but these disappear during the first molt. When the young are self supporting it is advisable to remove the young or the cock bird can become aggressive. All the young ones form different pairs may be housed together without any problem. The Diamond Dove will provide three or four nests a year.
Addendum: J. Pire: The "iris" color of the male & female Diamond Dove is red not orange as stated in Piel's info. The eye cere can be from light orange to coral red in color. The environment the birds are kept in captivity does affect the size & coloration of the eye ceres.
The following article was written back in 1987 and was published in the IDS bulletin. It deals with the questions being asked pertaining to the color mutations being bred in the Diamond Doves. At the time of this writing the newest color available to US fanciers was the Yellow or Yellow Wing (Canada). Not much genetic work was done or was ongoing at this time. Check out Jeff Downing's web site and purchase his book on Diamond Doves. It has some information on these mutations and the newer colors now being bred in these beautiful small doves.
Color Mutations in the Diamond Dove
by John Pire
1987 (rewritten 4/2001)
Over the past three years I have been asked many questions pertaining to the different colors being bred in the Diamond Doves. Since this specie was my preference of the many dove species, I was quite interested in the colors also. I made up a form and published it in the ADA, CDA and several major bird publications. The form asked for any information Diamond Dove (DD) fanciers were willing to share. Having read article son Ringneck genetics by Dr. Wilmer Miller in the dove associations bulletins I contacted him with the information I had compiled. I had compiled information on some twenty-six colors or patterns being described by the different fanciers who responded with information.
I sent Dr. Miller the information and asked him for his thoughts and comments. Dr. Miller was very helpful in answering the questions I had posed to him. He also enclosed some information he gave to his students at the Dept of Genetics at the Iowa State University. He also enclosed some charts, which could be followed for the testing of the color mutations. NOTE: these charts are assumptions and have not been proven; further testing and results accurately kept will accurately set these charts as to which color mutants are dominate and recessive.
Question: After reviewing the information on the different colors/patterns can you make any comments as to the inheritance of them?
Answer: More specific analysis would be possible if more detailed information was available. By more specific details I mean: the results of crosses of each mutant form with wild-type (Blue in DD) and those "F1" inter-mated (same single mutant involved) to yield an "F2" or else test crossed to the mutant parent if "F1" are blue or to the "blue" parent if "F1" are mutant type.
Question: Many of the colors and patterns may be variations of the same color or patterns, such as Yellow White Rump, Yellow White Tail; Cinnamon White Rump; Silver or Blue Big Spot could these be considered separate mutants?
Answer: To better understand the situation I need to make some comments to better handle this question. Twenty-six colors or pattern mutations is quite astounding. Many items need to be clarified, such as, are many of the colors that different from each other or are they just shade variations? Does each mutant breed "true" for that mutant for at least five generations? Are there shade or color variations within the same clutch? Many things have to be proven before a mutation can be considered a mutant type. I hope that the colors/patterns can be reduced to a few basic (single) mutations and their interactions to yield other colors or patterns. In Ringneck Doves (Streptopelia risoria) any of four (4) basic color mutants may interact to yield over twelve (12) color types. Example: Peach is a combination of Blond (fawn) with Rosy.
Question: In the quest to produce the "WHITE DIAMOND DOVE" many breeders' state that as they breed to obtain the "white" DD, the birds become "weaker". They show signs of poor flight or poor eyesight. Can you comment on why this might be occurring?
Answer: The TRUE WHITE DIAMOND DOVE probably awaits the proper mutation to occur. The near white that breeders are getting now is a combination of the mutants that lighten color. The combinations of related mutants often weaken the possessor phenotypically in pigeons, according to Dr. Hollander. Often, however, it could be that inbreeding is usual to get such combinations and that other deleterious genes combine to show their effects concomitantly, yielding so-called "inbreeding depression".
Questions: Could you show a simple chart or genetic layout to be used to analyze the different color mutants currently found in Diamond Doves?
Answer: You probably won't think it simple, especially since the "next step" depends on prior results. I've included my appendix 4 & 5 (Generalizations in Pedigree Analysis in Classical Genetics & How to Solve Breeding-Data Problems) that I give to my students. I also drew a couple of DIAGRAMS in which to follow. Since there has not been much research done on any of the colors, these diagrams are only SAMPLE RESULTS and not exactly what you will produce until you obtain results and apply them to the charts. To begin: to better analyze the mutants you must remember that the wild type (Blue) is very important in your analyses. Each description of the mutant should emphasize how they DIFFER from the wild type.