Barbary dove

Streptopelia risoria

The charismatic and friendly Barbary dove flock can be found opposite the capybaras. Watch these endearing birds roll around in water and call at you!

Species Information

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Although domesticated, the Barbary dove originates from sub-Saharan Africa in dry woodlands, grasslands, and savannahs. They can now be found all over the world, being introduced and released as non-native species, including in the UK.

These dainty doves have a white-creamy plumage with a darker semi-collar encircling the hind neck.

Primarily granivores, feeding on grains, seeds, and young plants.

On average 12 years, but has been recorded living up to 29 years!

The doves communicate by using chemical signals, as well as their body language and sound. For example, when they are excited, they emit a ‘coo’ sound! They tend to be gregarious when in the wild, with flocks of up to 10,000 observed. Barbary doves still show instinctive behaviours despite being domesticated. For example, they freeze in place when a shadow overhead mimics a predator, such as a bird of prey.

After a gestation period of 29 days, joeys are born embryonic and weigh less than a gram. However small, these joeys are strong enough to use their forelimbs to climb into their mother’s pouch and latch onto their mother’s teat. The teat swells in the embryos mouth and they are not strong enough to let go until they are more developed. They remain in the pouch for about 9 months and continue to suckle from their mother for up to 15 months.

Least Concern

Doves, alongside flamingos and male emperor penguins, are the only species of birds to produce milk for their offspring! This ‘crop milk’ is higher in protein and fat than mammalian milk, and is more solidified. Doves will often not eat during the first few days of chick rearing, to prevent feeding the ‘squabs’ seeds which they are unable to digest.