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The Senegal Dove

This popular Old World dove has been successfully bred in aviculture since 1861.

By Robert Alison, Ph.D

A Senegal dove is highly reccomended as a pet
The Senegal dove, a popular Old World Dove. 

Senegal doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) are among the most popular Old World doves in aviculture, mainly to their striking coloration, non-aggressive disposition, ease of breeding and widespread availability.  They are highly recommended by many aviculture organizations.

There are five subspecies: S.s. phoenicophila (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), S.s. aegyptiaca (Egypt), S.s. socotrae (Socotra), S.s. senegalensis (Yemen, Sahara) and S.s. cambayensis (China, Asia Minor). All are small reddish-brown doves with white-edged tails. Copper-tipped feathers are often prominently displayed, especially during bowing and other courtship behavior.

Senegal doves typically measure about 4 2/3 inches long, and weigh 3 1/8 to 4 1/4 ounces. Most are quite tame and approachable. In fact, wild-trapped adults often nest within a few hours of being placed in captivity; these doves are extraordinarily adaptable to confinement.

They have been successfully bred in aviculture since 1861. White mutations were first produced in the 1960s and pied mutations in the 1970s.

In the wild, these doves prefer arid scrubby habitats, often near permanent water, and sometimes in areas dominated by thornbush. Urban populations are common; human-altered habitats often host large numbers of these birds, which typically forage for grain and seeds in gardens and agricultural fields, as well as along roadsides and in parks.  They forage almost exclusively on the ground.

According to avicultural associations, these doves get along harmoniously in the aviary with other dove species, as well as with finches and other types of birds. But some males can be aggressive in breeding season towards other male Senegal doves.

The courtship is a series of elaborate exaggerated bowing movements. Only males bow, and the behavior is accompanied by bubbly cooing.

In the wild, towering display flights are accompanied by loud wing-clapping and long, sometimes circular, gliding movements with the tail broadly spread.

Two eggs are laid in a flimsy nest; both parents incubate and the incubation period is 12 to 14 days. Young fledge in 12 days.

The Streptopelia doves (turtle doves) are typically smallish, trim and active. Senegal doves are among the few members of the group that do not have a special "excitement" vocalization, so common in the other species.

Aviculture Hints

1)  These doves are vulnerable to excessive chilling, especially sustained cold winds.

2)  They prefer to nest in baskets, on nest platforms or in boxes or pots containing mulch.

3)  They make excellent foster parents.

4)  Sometimes prolific parents produce up to 8 broods per year.

5)  Some parents are aggressive towards their own fledged offspring, and in that case, young should be taken away from their parents as soon as re-nesting is initiated.


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The Senegal Dove

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Reader Comments
They seem like nice little birds that are easy to get along with. Also, they are rather cute.
William, San Francisco, CA
Posted: 7/12/2010 1:31:36 PM
What a beautiful bird! And it sounds like it's very adaptable.
Elaine, Darien, IN
Posted: 6/25/2010 1:08:11 PM
Wow
Robert Pattinson, Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 6/24/2010 8:24:54 PM
Interesting
C, TN, TN
Posted: 6/23/2010 5:23:22 AM
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