Diamond Doves have very modest needs; a clean environment, fresh water, seed and grit. But they absolutely thrive if you give them a little bit extra. We tend to spoil all our family members, from our 80-lb rescue Shepherd/Lab mix "Rufus" down to the tiny newborn baby doves. Below we will describe how we care for our lovely Diamond Doves.
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We mix half and half Abba White Millet and Abba Finch seed and the Diamonds thrive on this mixture. We add the White Millet to the Finch seed for the following reasons:
Birds - from Cockatiels down to Finches absolutely love it
It is easy to digest (having a softer hull) for the babies
It has a lot of calories, keeping the parents and babies nice and plump
And an added bonus is the unhulled white millet is perfect for making sprouts
Do not feed pellets to Doves, (I dislike pellets anyway and NEVER fed them to any of my birds). Doves are "seed eaters" they will not do well with pellets.
Below is a link to an excellent article about why pellets should not be fed to birds:
I had been a devoted Higgins product lover until I just now ran into a big problem with them. Upon opening a new 20-lb bag of Mineral Grit - I noticed that 90% of the oyster shell was not covered with the blue mineral coating. The previous bag had 100% of the oyster shell covered with the coating.
When I contacted Higgins (first by their contact form, then by email, finally by phone), I received the royal runaround, although I was assured that "the formula for the Mineral Grit has not changed." But the question was never answered as to WHY the new Mineral Grit was barely coated. Unanswered emails led me to call them (again) and the Distributor of Sales (whom I'd emailed several times, and spoken to once on the phone) suddenly became "unavailable" and the receptionist refused to let me speak to anyone else.
I suspected that the company had decided to save money by decreasing the mineralized coating on their oyster shell. So instead of coating 100% of the oyster shell, they were only coating about 10% of it - but still calling it "mineral grit." I took a photo of the old and new grit (the new grit is on the right). You can see how most of the oystershell is completely uncoated:
Just now I received an email from them claiming that they had "analyzed the mineral grit and decided to add less color." A pretty ludicrous statement since the small portion of oyster shell which was coated was the same color as the old product. They just stopped putting the mineral coating on the majority of their oyster shell, is all they did.
If they had admitted to me upfront and in a timely manner (and in a businesslike, professional email with proper spelling, grammar and punctuation) that they were putting less coating on the oyster shell instead of lying about just "minimizing the color" I would have accepted it. But to downgrade a product and then lie about it is awful. And I have to wonder how many OTHER of their products they have downgraded to cut cost.
I've since learned exactly how huge Higgins has become and how they have cut corners with their products in order to reduce their cost - and it's time for us to part ways.
I immediately called Abba Seed in New Jersey - and was immediately put in contact with the owner - who is an incredibly knowledgeable man. I will be ordering all my products from them instead of Higgins from now on.
If they have done this to their mineral grit, I shudder to think of the corners they have cut making their Egg Food. Most "Egg Food" is actually made of bread crumbs, and guess what? Many of the larger manufacturers of "Egg Food" throw in the plastic that the bread comes in - claiming that the plastic wrapper has been processed so fine you can't see it. Can you imagine feeding PLASTIC to your birds? MUCH better (and safer) to make your own Birdie Bread and include a lot of eggs (recipe below).
The picture below:
In glass ashtray on the left - unhulled white (aka proso) millet
In glass ashtray on the right - half & half mixture of white millet & Finch Seed
We purchase Spray Millet, which we then cut into 1" - 2" lengths, and store in Ziplock plastic bags. We put in 1 piece per bird in every cage. Spray Millet satisfies their instinct to peck seed naturally from a plant, and it's "comfort food" for Doves.
I make up a simple Birdie Bread for my Diamond Doves and they absolutely love it.
There are many recipes, but I just make a basic Birdie Bread using the following recipe:
4 eggs (throw the shells away)
1 box Corn Muffin mix (I use JIffy)
3/4 cp water
1/3 cp molasses
1/3 cp peanut butter
1/3 cp wheat germ
1/2 cp Malt-O-Meal cereal
I mix the above ingredients thoroughly. The batter should resemble thick cake batter (if it is too thick, add more water; if it is too thin, add more Malt-O-Meal cereal). Pour into cake pan (use either wax paper or grease & flour your pan or use Pam, to prevent sticking). Bake in preheated oven for 20 - 35 minutes at 300 degrees. Bake only until firm in the center. Cool. Slice into squares or wedges. Wrap the squares or wedges in plastic wrap and put in freezer bag and keep in the freezer. Remove one each evening to thaw for the following morning.
First thing in the morning I give the cages with babies (nestlings or fledglings) - the babies are all hungry and the parents need to feed them as quickly as possible. The other birds get theirs a couple hours later when I clean cages, change water and replenish seed.
About an hour before "lights out", I give the cages with baby birds more Birdie Bread, this helps ensure that the babies will go to bed with a full crop which will make them comfortable and allow them to sleep all night without being hungry.
An added bonus of purchasing Abba unhulled White Millet is that it is perfect for making very nutritious sprouts. Our doves are given sprouts every morning.
I could never make sprouts reliably until I stopped using plastic. The minute I started using glass jars, sprouting became super easy. Any heavy glass jar with a metal lid can be used - just put some nail holes in the lid for ventilation. We purchased three glass "candy jars" at Walmart (but I imagine you can use canning jars also).
Poke holes in the metal lids with a hammer & a nail. Soak millet overnight, rinse in a wire strainer and put the seeds into the glass jar. Since the jars we purchase have flat sides, we are able to stack them on top of each other on their sides (I have multiple jars going all the time). I put Spring water into the jar, swish it around and then strain the seeds with a strainer and put the seeds back into the jar. I rinse the seeds three times a day, and by the third day, the sprouts are ready to be fed.
Quinoa is the edible seed of a grain-like crop, which has a fairly high protein content. In their natural state, the seeds have a bitter coating, which is removed during processing prior to being sold. You can sometimes find boxes of Quinoa in the grocery stores, but the seed is also sold on the net in bulk. (Be sure to make sure they have been processed to remove the bitter coating.) Even so, it's best to really rinse the Quinoa thoroughly yourself before soaking - just to make sure all the bitterness is gone.
I have seen two types of Quinoa, red and white. I prefer the white because it seems to be softer and better suited to soaking. When soaked, you will notice tiny spirals unfurling around each seed. The seed is NOT actually sprouting, it's just unfurling. BUT - these tiny spirals are very eye-catching to seed-eating birds, and I've used them before especially when coaxing birds to try new foods by mixing it in with the new food.
The white Quinoa will begin unfurling after about 4 hours soaking, but the red type takes longer. Quinoa is a bit expensive, though, so don't feel as though the doves have to have it. Some like it, some don't. Sprouts are much cheaper, if you'd like to use just those.
Our doves are also given greens every morning, usually regular parsley or, if the store doesn't have it - Italian parsley or Cilantro. The doves, especially the babies, seem to like the regular parsley best. Contrary to popular opinion, parsley is not at all bad for birds, it's very nutritious. I stay away from Iceberg lettuce because it tends to make their droppings a bit watery. If you must use Iceberg lettuce, try to use only the very greenest leaves. And never use a lot, we only put a sprig or two in each cage.
We have a small container (a glass ashtray) in each cage which contains a mixture of Parakeet Gravel, finely ground Oyster Shell, Abba Mineral Grit, fine Charcoal and Redmond Mineral Kosher Sea Salt. We also put a small piece of cuttlebone in each cage.
The Picture Below:
Redmond Kosher Mineral Sea Salt in the bag, and in the glass ashtrays from left to right: Mineral Oyster Shell, finely ground Oyster Shell, fine Charcoal, Parakeet Grit. (I have since replaced the Parakeet Grit shown below, with Parakeet Gravel instead.)
The picture below:
Glass Ashtray with combined above ingredients (just a sprinkle of the Sea Salt), and a piece of Cuttlebone.
Be CAREFULwhen choosing Oyster Shell and Charcoal for your Diamond Doves. There are different sizes:
Glass ashtray on the left with regular Oyster Shell for birds - suitable for larger Doves (ie Ringnecks, etc)
Glass ashtray on the right with FINELY GROUND Oyster Shell - suitable for Finches and Diamond Doves.
Glass ashtray on the left with regular Charcoal for birds - suitable for larger Doves (ie Ringnecks, etc.)
Glass ashtray on the right with FINE Charcoal - suitable for Finches and Diamond Doves.
This is a specially formulated blend of essential oils, fatty acids and vitamins for breeding birds. It contains (among other things) vitamin D3 which is important for calcium absorption. It assists with egg quality, fertility, helps prevent eggbinding and helps their plumage. We mix 1/8 of a tsp for 1/4 cup of seed. Since this product is an oil, I keep it refrigerated to maintain freshness.
There is a similar product made by Abba which I am tempted to try. I will let you know if it is an acceptable substitute for the Breeding Aid.
We live in an area of Ohio that has absolutely horrible water. Our well water has to be run through a water softener and then run through a reverse osmosis system - but even then, we never use it for the birds. Fresh, CLEAN water is essential for Doves because they depend on water even more than other birds. We purchase bottled Spring water (not Drinking water) for them.
I stumbled upon this little gem when I was breeding Gouldians, it made such a difference not only with their breeding but with their general health, that I began using it for all my finches and Diamond Doves. This is a wonderful product, and is unlike the other commercial "water cleansers" (many of which smell like they are made of vinegar). There is NO substitute for this product - none. I use 1/8 tsp in 2 cups of water 2 consecutive days a week. It's a bit pricey but so little is used that it lasts a long time. I keep mine in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
In the below picture, I had removed the label from the KD Water Cleanser container.
Diamond doves are "flight birds" not "climbing birds" and need to be able to fly horizontally inside their cages. We use 30x18x18 breeding cages which are on stands. The cages are roomy enough for flight and the birds are extremely comfortable in them. White cages are much more attractive than dark/black cages.
If you have a used cage, please do make sure that it's suitable for Diamond Doves, and to be sure it's safe, treat it with Pet Focus (according to the directions on the bottle) before putting the birds in it. After you put your birds in the cage, make sure you treat the birds with S76 (just in case there might be a few residual mites lurking in the crevices) and KD Water Cleanser.
We use (and highly recommend) only white paper towels to be used on the floor of their cages. Doves are ground birds and walking on grates or wires will damage their feet. Shavings and pellets create dust which can cause respiratory problems. Newspaper ink can transfer onto plumage. An added bonus of the white paper towels is the ability to monitor droppings at a glance.
I dislike using the perches that come with birdcages and prefer the adult birds to have more natural perches. We planted Pussy Willow trees for the purpose of using the branches for perches (plus I love the spring pussy willow catkins). The trees grew extremely fast and in no time we had plenty of safe, non-toxic perches for our birds. The natural branches have different widths which exercise the toes and feet of the birds and helps prevent pressure sores. As an added bonus, they also keep their toenails naturally trimmed.
When using natural tree branches for perches, make sure the branches have different widths, particularly wide widths. Trim sharp projections from the branches to make them safer. Some folks treat the branches with Pet Focus before using them, others "bake" the branches in an oven for a certain amount of time before using them. I believe it really depends on what type of tree/shrub the branches came from (rough barked branches can hide mites, fungus & bacteria more than smooth bark), the type of weather when the branches are harvested (extended humid or rainy days previous to collecting the branches might have caused fungus), and whether wild birds congregate heavily on the tree/shrub (possibly transmitting viruses, fungus, bacteria or mites to the branches).
Our home is surrounded by trees, so there are plenty of other roosts for the wild birds, which do not really seem to prefer the smooth and slender long branches of the pussy willows, so I do not treat or bake the branches I collect. But you'll have to use your own judgment if you collect branches for your birds.
I do, however, additionally use a commercial perch (which come with the birdcage) in the breeding cages, placed near the nest. The commercial perch does provide a wide, stable footing for fledglings when they first leave the nest (as demonstrated in the picture of the 13-day-old baby on the home page).
I have not noticed Diamond Doves "playing" with any toys I've provided with the exception of swings, which they love. They are interested most with building nests, courting their mates, incubating eggs, raising babies and eating.
The swing which they enjoy the most are the Cockatiel Swings with the wooden perch, it provides a comfortable footing for the Doves, and it's large enough for both the male and female to sit together.
Diamond Doves are said to enjoy bathing in water, although I've never seen ours do so. I use the Bird Baths for another purpose. Diamond Doves (like all doves) are known for scattering seed as they eat - they love to fling it in all directions while searching for the choicest seeds to eat first. By putting their seeds in a covered Parakeet Bird Bath, the seeds stay IN the bird bath and are not scattered about.
There are many other different kinds of seed holders which will prevent the seed from being flung around, however I prefer the covered parakeet bird baths over all of them. Although they can be trained to use the small ceramic covered containers and homemade containers with small holes, some Diamond Doves are reluctant to put their head into a small opening. I like having a good wide area for them to peck seed from, Diamond Doves are "ground feeders" and it feels natural for them to be able to select seeds from a good-size area. Also, since I raise babies, and the babies learn to eat by imitating the parents, I like to have a feeding area where one parent (or both) can eat AS WELL AS the two little babies. I've found that the babies learn to eat on their own much faster if they can peck right alongside their Mom or Dad.
I place the covered bird bath a couple inches away from a corner in each cage. Male Diamond Doves can be enthusiastic suitors and having an area where the female can get away from the male temporarily seems to ease her stress when her "man is in an amorous mood."
We have found that although the parakeet bird baths work great for seed, we also have 2 small glass ashtrays in each cage. They are very inexpensive and easy to clean. They are the perfect size, one for holding the mineral grit/gravel/oyster shell/charcoal/salt mixture and other for holding the birdie bread mixture.
Do not forget to have nets handy just in case a bird escapes from his cage. The best way to catch him is to close the shades and turn down the light. The darkness will quiet him and he will be easier to catch with a net.
Get a GOOD net, not one of those homemade jobs made out of nylon net. Get a close-weave net which will not become tangled with the Doves' toenails, and get one which is deep enough so that when you DO net the Dove, you can twist the net (or even better, flip the frame to close the opening quickly) so the Dove cannot escape.
Since Diamond Doves really love sunbathing, the cage should be placed near a window which gets morning or afternoon sun. The cage should be free of drafts from open windows, air vents or ducts.
Please be sure to check periodically and make sure that the sun is not reflecting off the water in their dishes. Nothing will upset doves more than flickering sun reflections on the ceiling - and having waterdishes exposed to direct sunlight will warm the water quickly and encourage the growth of bacteria & fungus.
Diamond Doves do best as indoor birds. They do not do well with extreme cold or heat. Keep their environment at a comfortable 70 - 80 degrees.
Night Lights will help prevent the dreaded "Night Frights" - when birds are in a dark room and, frightened by some kind of noise or movement, begin thrashing. Certain types of birds seem to be more affected than others. Cockatiels are notorious for being prone to "Night Frights", and some of the more exotic finches, also. Although our larger doves do not seem to be prone to them, I have noticed that Diamond Doves can be - particularly if they are new birds, or birds put in a new cage, or if their cage has been put in a different location.
"Night Frights" are contagious - if one starts - the others will follow and the results can be disastrous, not only eggs and babies knocked from the nest, but broken wings, banged heads and bleeding cuts. Providing a night light will allow them to see their surroundings, but it will not be bright enough to keep them awake. I have an electrical extension cord and keep TWO night lights plugged into it. They are turned on when the birds are put to bed and turned off in the morning. By having 2 night lights, you don't have to worry if a bulb burns out during the night, throwing the room into sudden darkness and possibly frightening the birds.
Red, yellow, orange and sometimes pink and other bright colors can be frightening to doves, although I've noticed that the larger doves seem less affected than the miniature Diamond Doves. It really helps to wear the same kind of drab-colored clothing when you are cleaning the cages, particularly when they are sitting on eggs or babies; you don't want them fluttering suddenly from the nest and dislodging an egg or a baby.
Any signs of illness should be treated immediately. It's good to have on hand several items, just in case, and have them in advance, so they will be available for immediate use if needed:
* a heat lamp, with extra bulbs
* flexible plastic feeding syringe - great if needed for dosing medication, or cropfeeding a weak bird
* Baby bird food, in case the ill bird needs cropfeeding (see Breeding Page)
* A small, wire, travel cage. A sick bird should be kept in a small cage with no perches, I've found some small wire travel cages (below) which are fantastic for use as traveling cages or hospital cages.
* antibiotics. Antibiotics frequently used for birds include Aureomysin, Baytril, Doxycycline, Terramycin, Tetracycline. (Remember to avoid grit, oystershell or any calcium supplement when treating with the Tetracycline family of antibiotics (Terramycin, Aureomycin, Tetracycline, Doxycycline) because the calcium can bind to the antibiotics making them unusable in the body. I'd also forego feeding any birdie bread while they are on antibiotics. (Also monitor the grit - sometimes birds will scarf up on too much grit if they are ill.)
* S76 - an absolutely fantastic product for internal or external mites, and should really be a must if you are introducing new birds into your birdroom.
Remember that birds can appear fine one minute and then be at death's door the next. Thankfully, I've found that Diamond Doves are rather hardy, but still - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I encourage folks to keep the cages clean, the water changed frequently (no less than every other day & use KD Water Cleanser weekly), provide fresh food & seed, keep dishes clean, keep the temperature stable and provide for their breeding needs - proper nests, nesting material, peace and quiet.You will be rewarded with years and years of delightful coos and healthy parents & babies.
I can't emphasize enough how terrific the below inexpensive cage is for use as 1) a traveling cage, 2) a hospital cage for ill birds or 3) for keeping little babies in while you handraise them.. It is 11x7x5 and with one opening large enough to fit your hand. Because of the limited room, you can catch the dove quickly and quietly without fuss and without traumatizing the bird. A piece of cardboard can be cut to fit on the bottom, which can be easily replaced if it becomes wet. I also cover the cardboard bottom with a white paper towel, which not only provides a better footing for the birds, but their droppings (SO important to monitor in ill or baby birds) can be seen easily.
When used as a hospital cage or a cage for little babies that are being handfed, I place the cage on a shelf and direct a heat lamp at one side so the bird can get closer to, or move away from, the lamp as he/she chooses. If the baby is super young, I will fashion a soft nest from fleece material and put it inside the cage for the comfort of the baby.
These cages also make terrific travel cages, limiting the space so the birds cannot flutter about and hurt themselves.
I have these cages, brand new, for sale (pickup only) for $5.00 each.
I used to use closed legbands, but one night a baby got it caught on a woven nest (before I moved to plastic) and fell out, hanging by his leg. His leg was pulled out of joint and he had to be euthanized. I was horrified, and immediately removed all the woven nests and stopped using bands. Split bands are even worse for getting caught on things, so I refuse to use bands at all. I keep detailed records of each and every bird, and every cage bottom contains the identification of the birds inside: names of birds, birthdates and parents.Additionally, I keep a record book detailing each bird with their health and breeding history.
It's so important for water containers (whether water bowls for dogs, or water cups/dishes for birds) be kept clean to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungus. We purchase duplicates of every water bowl/dish, so we can put fresh water in a clean, DRY container. It's important for water containers to not only be cleaned but to be dried out thoroughly before being used again. If you use the same container all the time (even if it's cleaned each time fresh water is put in), you will notice slime building up on the edges. Drying the containers thoroughly prevents this from happening; and using the KD water cleanser also helps prevent bacteria & fungus from building up in the water dishes.