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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I'm new here, but have been reading here since recently rescuing a baby dove from the mouth of my neighbor's cat about 3-4 weeks ago. When I rescued her, I took her straight to the local bird vet, where she received a long lasting antibiotic, and since that time she's had a bedroom to herself in my house. She was quite young, just learning how to fly (which is probably why the cat got her) and I hand fed her for about 10 days. She's been eating seed on her own and drinking for about 2 weeks now, and it's time for me to make the decision about releasing her. I assumed I'd be releasing her, so I've been careful not to domesticate her, and since stopping the hand feeding, have limited my patting of her etc. Today there were lots of birds around outside and she was crying.....I've never seen her do that before, even when she was a baby wanting food. I'm not sure if she was trying to communicate with them, or something else was going on. For the first time in about a week, I picked her up and gave her a bit of stroking. I'm torn about releasing her....part of me thinks she'd be so much happier flying around with her friends and family....there have been doves around lately and I'm tempted to release her next time they are around so she can join them quickly. I'm also now aware of how much longer they can live in captivity. I have cats in the house, so it's not an ideal home for her. I of course have fallen in love with her, and if I kept her would try to get her a mate (ask the vet to let me take on the next dove etc that is unable to be released due to injury or something). I'm torn, but know I must make up my mind soon as she's flying very well on her own now, eating and drinking well etc. I'd so appreciate any advice. Thank you.
 

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Guess there's a few things to consider:

Whether this dove is one of your native species or not. I assume it is. If so, then I'm sure there are laws concerning the keeping of such species, but one of our other Australian members may be able to advise on that.

For doves (and pigeons) we get in the UK, it can depend how old a baby is when it is found. If a bird has been hand-raised almost from day one, then it may well bond with its 'human parent' and not really do so good if released straight into the outside world.

If there is any risk to the dove if kept in your home (e.g., a cat, however uninterested the cat may appear) then I think the answer is obvious.

If kept, then it will become increasingly dependent upon you for its welfare, so it should not be given free flight outside (except, of course, in an aviary).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Guess there's a few things to consider:

Whether this dove is one of your native species or not. I assume it is. If so, then I'm sure there are laws concerning the keeping of such species, but one of our other Australian members may be able to advise on that.

For doves (and pigeons) we get in the UK, it can depend how old a baby is when it is found. If a bird has been hand-raised almost from day one, then it may well bond with its 'human parent' and not really do so good if released straight into the outside world.

If there is any risk to the dove if kept in your home (e.g., a cat, however uninterested the cat may appear) then I think the answer is obvious.

If kept, then it will become increasingly dependent upon you for its welfare, so it should not be given free flight outside (except, of course, in an aviary).
Thank you for your reply.

Doves are not natives here. We have a group here called WIRES who care for all native animals and birds, but refuse to care for any non-natives, which is why it came home with me from the vet.

I think she came in at close to two weeks old....she was starting to fly, but not well. She was trying to run away from the cat outside, but could not fly form it (after I got the cat to drop it from her mouth). Within a couple days she'd started eating seed, within a week, she was refusing formula.

She seems to like me, but still usually flies away from me or walks away from me, so I think she's still quite feral.

I'd never let her fly outside if I decided to keep her and she'd either go in an aviary outside or have her own bedroom. I'm terrified if I let her back out the neighbor's cat will get her again, but hoping if I release her when other doves are around she'll join up with them and learn all about how to survive out there.

I'm torn! Very hard decision but I want to do what will make her happiest and be best for her.
 

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I think we are conditioned to think that hand raised pigeon/doves should be released....that it's the right thing to do.
I have more than several here right now, that likely were hand raised and released by a human wanting to do the right thing. The sad thing is that many times the birds don't make it, as they don't know how. More over, many of these hand raised, released pigeon and doves don't even have a clue as to what another pigeon/ looks like and they instead relate to humans. Lucky for the birds here, a kind person found them and turned them over to me.
One recently was not so lucky and the outcome nearly broke my heart. A fancy pigeon with feathered feet and a little flip on the back of his head, he showed up at a condo complex in my area. He tried desperately to get into several condos but no one let him inside. No one fed him either. After 3 weeks, one of the residents picked him up and brought him to me. By this point he was too week to fly and he was very sick. He was nothing more than feathers on bones and I couldn't believe he was still alive. My vet and I struggled with him for 9 weeks and finally last week, as he remained critical, the decision was made to euthanize him.
I can't tell you what is best for your baby but listen to your gut level on this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think we are conditioned to think that hand raised pigeon/doves should be released....that it's the right thing to do.
I have more than several here right now, that likely were hand raised and released by a human wanting to do the right thing. The sad thing is that many times the birds don't make it, as they don't know how. More over, many of these hand raised, released pigeon and doves don't even have a clue as to what another pigeon/ looks like and they instead relate to humans. Lucky for the birds here, a kind person found them and turned them over to me.
One recently was not so lucky and the outcome nearly broke my heart. A fancy pigeon with feathered feet and a little flip on the back of his head, he showed up at a condo complex in my area. He tried desperately to get into several condos but no one let him inside. No one fed him either. After 3 weeks, one of the residents picked him up and brought him to me. By this point he was too week to fly and he was very sick. He was nothing more than feathers on bones and I couldn't believe he was still alive. My vet and I struggled with him for 9 weeks and finally last week, as he remained critical, the decision was made to euthanize him.
I can't tell you what is best for your baby but listen to your gut level on this one.
Thanks so much for your reply.

I'm finding this to be a very tough decision. I was just in her room with her again, and she's crying out again...I'm not sure why....she's only done it the last 2 days.....she's eating well, flying well and seems very perky, so have no idea why she's crying like that.

If I were to release her, I'd do it when other doves were around, and leave the bedroom window (of the room she's been living in) open and keep an eye on her and take her back in immediately if I thought she wasn't going to cope. She wasn't as young as others are when I brought her in, and though she seems to like me, she still seems fearful of me (doesn't fly to me or anything like that) so I think she's still got a fair bit of wild in her. I've watched lots of videos of others hand feeding doves, and those doves seemed much more docile with humans....she was always trying to run away from me and it was never easy to get her to sit still with me to feed her. Since eating on her own, I've handled her very very little as I've known I would likely release her.

My neighborhood is great for birds.....lots of beautiful birds about, lots of trees, little traffic etc. Perhaps if i put a feeder outside her window, at a high level (so neighbor's cat can't reach it) and left window to that room open, she'd make her own choice and come back if she wanted?

Any idea why she's been crying out? I'm going to keep her in for at least another couple days to make sure she's ok. This decision is sooooo hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
just wondering what kind of dove is it.. there are allot of interesting doves in Australia.
Good question...but I'm not at all sure! The vet just called it a fledgling dove. It's not one of the ones with a pointy peak on it's head. Looks almost like a regular pigeon to me.

I've looked thru a bunch of pics of Aussie doves, and the closest I can find is the brown cuckoo dove, but my dove is more grey than brown. There are lots of other doves like her around, so don't know why I can't find a name for her!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Or she might be a laughing turtle dove? Hard to tell...probably will be more obvious when she's older.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The baby dove is going to the vet today for a check as her feathers looking a bit scruffy....I think this may have happened because i was cleaning the bird poo with vinegar the other day and she got scared and ran thru the vinegar (at least I hope that's all it is). doves are sitting on and around my house almost daily, and I've decided (subject to what the vet says) to release her while there are doves in the yard (hopefully her parents are out there and remember her)....I'll leave the window open for her and check out for her regularly and re-rescue her if she doesn't look like she's coping.
will only be able to keep her bedroom window open in the day as the neighbor's cat is always around and I don't want her in there if/when my baby dove decides to fly back in. Should I put a feeder by the window at a height high enough so the cat can't get to it? Any other tips/advice would be appreciated. I've fallen in love with the dove, but it is still quite wild and I hope/think it is going to have a great/better life with the other doves outside.
 

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Hi Phoenix,

I'm from Australia too, and I hope I might be able to help, at least with identifying the pigeon or dove. You may not realise this, but most native Doves & Pigeons in Australia need eat native fruits, insects, native seeds & berries, and many are exclusively fruit eaters.So for future reference, its a good idea to identify a rescued dove sooner rather than later, in case you're feeding it an incorrect diet.

Because you mentioned a `peak' on the head of the dove, and because it has survived on seed so far, my guess is that you have a native pigeon called a `crested pigeon'. Crested pigeons will eat seed, but they also need insects and native foods in their diet. Can you check this picture and let me know if this resembles your pigeon?

http://photogallery.canberrabirds.org.au/images/Pigeon_Crested_Robinson.jpg

As a second guess, the most common urban dove is the feral Spotted Indian turtle dove, which looks like this:

http://www.ozanimals.com/image/albums/australia/Bird/normal_N_Tilcheff-SpottedTurtleDove_01.jpg

If what you have is a crested pigeon, it is a native bird and for future reference, ideally it should have been sent to a wildlife rescue organisation to be raised on the correct diet, and released somewhere safe with other babies its age, not around cats . But you weren't to know, I am just letting you know for future's sake.

Considering how many cats are around your place, and that the pigeon/dove has already been attacked once, I think putting it back out there could be cruel. It needs some time in a cage outside to watch and learn from the other pigeons, especially things like how to respond to predators and the warning calls form other birds. Once he's habituised to the outside, you would normally leave the cage open at dusk in case he wants to come back to roost. This is what would be called a `soft release'.

Anyway, first things first...do you think you can figure out what kind of pigeon or dove it is?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
HI Bella, Thanks for your reply. I just got back from the vet and it seems the dove is going to be with me for a while longer....weeks, and perhaps months. She has some feather damage (probably caused by getting her feathers in the vinegar solution I was using to clean her room and they will need time to get better). I also have to help her learn how to preen by doing things like giving her light sprays of water.

I'm pretty sure she's a brown cuckoo dove.....she's getting browner by the day and looking a lot like some doves hanging around outside that I think are brown cuckoo doves. She doesn't have a peak on her head! And she doesn't look like any of the doves in the pics you sent me. She is starting to look more and more like the dove in this pic http://www.wirrimbirra.com.au/Brown cockoo dove.htm The vet is an avian specialist.

I spoke to the vet today about her diet, and asked about fruit and veg and/or bigger seed, but the vet suggested throwing in some green vegetables, but otherwise sticking to the finch seed....she didn't think fruit was a good idea because she said the dove would be mostly eating grass weeds etc from the ground when released. I have consulted with the vet 3 times now since I got her, so I haven't been "winging it"...pun intended!

Re WIRES, as you probably know, they only help native birds, and as she wasn't a native (as she is a dove), that's why the vet sent her home with me. Had she been a native, she would have gone straight from the vet to a WIRES carer (I wouldn't have even have had the option of taking her home...that's my vet's policy). I have done work with WIRES before (with sick possums, animals caught in bushfires etc) and am very familiar with them.

Now that the bird is going to be with me for an extended time, the vet made the same suggestion you did re getting an outdoor aviary so she can watch the behaviour of the other doves prior to release. I will get her one within the next few weeks. There are many doves that look like her around (I think her parents are still in my yard) so hopefully by the time she's ready to be released, she'll do well out there.

She seems to understand that cat's are dangerous to her....not only did one already get her in her mouth (the neighbor's cat....mine are indoor cats), but whenever mine have gotten into the room (twice they've managed to sneak past me as I've carefully opened the door), I freak out and she does too (which I'm happy about). I yell at the cats, and they quickly scurry out. They can't help but be stimulated by the pecking and flying noises she's making in the room and often sit outside her door for hours!

I have fallen in love with her, but I'm being very careful not to make her a pet so as to assist her when she's released. Since I've stopped hand feeding her, I've handled her only when necessary, and she seems to have a healthy fear of me (doesn't sit on my shoulder or anything like that). It was hard getting her in a box today to get her to the vet, as when I put her on my fingers, she flies away. I hope I'm doing all I can to get her ready for her release one day (when the time is right) and really appreciate any advice you can give me!

Edited to add: was just looking at pics of Laughing Turtle Dove again, and she might be one of those http://www.ozanimals.com/Bird/Laughing-Turtle-Dove/Streptopelia/senegalensis.html Some of those look just like some of the brown cuckoo doves. Her feathers are still coming in, and she's changed color since I got her...as I was typing an adult one was walking around my pool outside! Very hard to tell the difference between these 2 types of doves.
 

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Dear Phoenixc,

Brown Cuckoo doves are Native; they're really huge rainforest pigeons, about twice the size of a feral pigeon, with very long tails like a macaw. My partner and I go to fraser Island to photograph them, and they are spectacular birds. They mostly eat native berries & fruit.

Feral turtle doves are dark chocolate brown when they are little, I wonder if it could be one of them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Bella,

Thanks for that info...the pics are really confusing me! The doves that she looks like that are in my yard are pigeon size birds, not really huge at all....plus, the vet only let me take her home because she wasn't a native, and the vet's an avian expert and should know the difference, so I'm thinking probably a laughing turtle dove??? I'll try to get a pic of her tomorrow (I just tried but she's not co-operating...probably still shaken from her trip to the vet) and a pic of some of the doves in my yard that she looks like, and hopefully we can solve this!!

She's still growing her feathers in, she's got some downy brown ones on her chest area, and a bit of brown on her head, and some grey on her face and underbelly! She has very long tailfeathers. I'll post some pics of her as soon as I can get some decent close ups!

Thanks so much again for your help! I really appreciate it.
 

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Dear Phoenixs,

I keep a lot of bird books, so I was able to find out that the laughing Turtle Dove that you mentioned is found only in the Southern part of Western Australia. But the Spotted Turtle dove, that looks almost the same, is found in NSW (assuming that you live in NSW, because you mentioned WIRES)? They look so similar, especially since the spotted Turtle dove doesn't get its spots on the back of its neck until its older, so that would made identification difficult as a baby. I get a lot of spotted turtle doves here, so that's the only reason I know.

One way to confirm it would be if you look at the adult doves in your area, the spotted turtle doves will have a kind of black band on the back of their necks, with lots of white spots. Does that sound like them?
 

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If you release her, how on earth is she going to know how to forage for food? They have to be taught that by their parents while they grow up. It sounds like she hasn't even learned to preen.

I think you should keep her. The vet is of opinion that she's an invasive species anyway. Why put an invasive species back in the wild?
 

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I agree that she would probably stand a much better chance if you were to keep her. As Libis has mentioned, they learn a lot of what they need to know from the parents while still young.
 

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I think it is important to know what kind of dove you have there.. if this is a brown cuckoo dove this is it's diet in the wild.

Diet

The pigeons can often be seen in pairs or groups. Its diet consists of fruits, berries, and trees from a variety of rainforest plants and introduced weed species. It eats mainly small fruits, of plants including Bleeding Heart, Celerywood and Wild Tobacco.

I think this wild bird should be released to live a normal liFe with a mate...a rehabber should be educated enough to know how to do a soft release. IF IT IS HEALTHY ENOUGH.
 

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Well if you can find a rehabber who could prepare the dove and do a soft release, along with other doves, then it would have a much better chance at making it in the wild.
 

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Since you said she is not native, I would suggest retaining her or taking her somewhere where she can be kept. She apparently doesn't belong in that ecosystem, so why put her back out in to it where she will be taking food and resources away from birds that were there first? Bond with her and care for her, hopefully a friend will be available soon for her.
 

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Their habitat IS Austrailia.

"The Brown Cuckoo-dove, Macropygia phasianella, are found in eastern Australia from Weipa and Aurukun in the north to Bega in the south and most inland at Atherton and Toowoomba."

Here it states it is native when talking about rock doves or pigeons.
Rock Doves
Rock Doves, or feral pigeons, are descended from homing and fancy pigeons kept for sport and as pets. They are very adaptable, and built environments provide suitable nest sites for them.

Their plumage is quite variable, reflecting their ancestry as exhibition birds. They should not be confused with various species of native doves and pigeons which are also present in or near cities and towns, such as Crested Pigeons, Bar-shouldered Doves, Peaceful Doves and Brown Cuckoo-Doves.
 
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