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The Cape Dove (Oena capensis) is also referred to as the Masked Dove, Namaqua Dove, and the Long-tailed Dove. The Cape Dove is a striking, sexually dimorphic sun-loving species that can be somewhat tricky for breeders in a colder climate, because they seem to like heat and natural sunlight. The eye-catching male stands out because of his black face, bib, and breast, which matches up nicely with the long black tail. Females are much plainer, since they lack the black face and breast, but they too share the graceful long-tailed silhouette.

Despite being somewhat finicky in captivity, it’s a tough little bird in the wild, enjoying a variety of rather arid, open habitats, including habitats near human habitation.

Geography: There are two subspecies of this winning little dove, one found in most of Africa and into the Middle East, and a second one found on the island of Madagascar.

Song / Call:

Size: about 11 inches in length

Lifespan: 10-14 years

Temperament: The Cape Dove has a wonderful reputation as a gentle, peaceful pet that adds a note of calm to the aviary. They are not action pets, but a single bird will become tame and learn to crave your attention, so do not isolate these special little birds. They need to be part of the family, not left alone and neglected. If you live in an area where you can place the birds in a warm, secure aviary with access to natural sunlight, you are ahead of the game. If you must breed the birds indoors, in cages, be sure to use full spectrum lighting. Despite the bird’s small size, a minimum cage size of 36” in length, 24” wide, and 36” tall would not be excessive.

Breeding: It’s reported that European breeders have struggled with this species more than they do with many other popular doves.

Diet: As with many small exotic doves, the backbone of the Cape Dove diet is a good quality Dove and Quail seed mix, Australian Blend Goldenfeast. but you should add some small game bird or quail pellets, millet sprays, eggfood, and greens like chickweed and sprouted millet sprays. All doves should have access to clean grit. Additional supplements of vitamin D is also suggested.

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