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I have a male pigen and female dove that mate. I had seen him mount her frequently but I blew it off as unusual behavior that was probably derived from the fact that they grew up in a small cage together (these birds were given to us about a year ago because we have an outdoor aviary and the old owners were moving). But they are reproducing. I did not think it was possible, but it is. I have been doing some research and it seems that Doves have 78 chromosomes and Pigeons have 80. Some articles suggest that they are both subspecies but I am not sure how this can be if they have a diffent number of chomosomes (if that is the case, why are humans and chimps not simply a subspecies). The problem I have is that the baby never lives more than a week. Information on this site suggested that both Pigeon parents care for the baby. But I have never seen either parent feed the baby. I also came across something on this site called Pigeon milk. Should the dad be able to feed the baby with this? Is this instictinve or could he have simply never learned how to do this? This is the second baby they have had and they both looked healthy then just up and died within a week of hatching. What can I do to help the next baby live? Can I milk the dad and feed the baby myself. What else would a pigeon-dove hybrid baby eat? Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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Welcome! You have some hybrids hatching, sounds like. I've had a few myself over the years. Doves and pigeons are genetically the same, and can breed and even have offspring (as you've obviously noted). They will produce what we refer to here as a hybrid, usually a smaller pigeon-looking bird with dove features too. Doves and pigeons both raise their babies exactly the same way; both produce what is called "crop milk" though it is not actually true milk, but rather a nutritious fluid they make to feed the babies during the first week or so. Then, they begin regurgitating seeds for them. So the father pigeon should be able to feed the babies just fine, as well as the mother dove. It IS instinctive for them and they know what to do, though first-time or inexperienced parents may have a hard time at first.

I began many years ago with my first pigeon, a male, and got him a female dove as a mate (I didn't know they don't go well together, then). It worked out while he was still young, and they did raise a pair of hybrids. BUT. After the pigeon matured, he began to relentlessly harass and "drive" the female dove to the nest, and I had to separate them. Since then I have learned that pigeons and doves generally do NOT mix, as the pigeons can be too big and mean, even a "nice tempered" pigeon. Especially a male pigeon and a female dove. It's a shame because the hybrids are pretty rare and so fun to hatch and raise, but in the long run it is extremely detrimental to the dove and can even end in death. :(

My advice to you would be to introduce another female pigeon, if possible, to the male pigeon, as well as a male dove for the female dove. Of course, your pigeon may be an extra small and docile fellow, in which case you could decide for yourself if he is or could be a threat to the dove in the future. I've just had the nicest pigeons turn on doves and a few times kill them, and it is so horrible. I would hate that to happen to your dove.

As for the babies dying. . .there can be a few causes of this. You said you haven't seen them feeding the babies, so that may be the whole problem, though likely they are feeding them when you're not watching. Other things that come to mind are an illness that the parent may be a carrier of, such as paratyphoid, which can cause death in the babies at an early age and is treatable by vet. You can get preventative vaccines for your birds from an online site such as Foy's, or even take them to an avian vet and they can do the vaccines. Of course if they are indoor birds and don't encounter any other birds, some people choose not to do this, as there is little risk of contracting a disease. But if one already has it, a vet could help you figure it out.

Anyway back to the not-feeding part. This is really up to you. A lot of us use fake/dummy wooden or plastic eggs so they can sit on them but not reproduce. Are your birds young? They may not be experienced enough to raise the babies correctly, in which case they will learn with time. But it's important to have a back-up plan, such as hand-feeding, if you do decide to let them hatch more. Hand-feeding does take a lot of time; for the first week they will need to be fed every few hours around the clock. After that, every three to four hours will suffice. You can do a Search using keywords such as "Hand-feeding" and "Kaytee" and will come up with an abundance of information. Do you have squabs now to care for? If so let us know and we can give a quick run-through on the immediate care. It's not terribly difficult, but it's not easy either, so it's a pretty big decision. You should have on hand a heating pad, some Kaytee Exact baby bird formula (or similar product), a large syringe without the needle, some balloons or a rubber glove, some plain organic yogurt for digestive purposes, a new feather duster or small clean stuffed animal, and anything else you come across in your search about hand-feeding. Rather than explain what all those are for, check out my link for the baby-feeding method that works best for me:

http://picasaweb.google.com/awrats3333/BabyFeeding#

Hope some of this helps, let us know how it's going, and if you have any more thoughts or questions. Good luck!
 
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