The Vinaceous Ringdove – an African Beauty
by John Pire
This article was first written in 1988 and appeared in the International Dove Society’s Bulletin. I have rewritten the article and added a bit more information about the species, which may be of help to fanciers keeping this species of dove in their collection.
Many of you have probably heard this beautiful species of dove without knowing that the sound was coming from a dove. The Vinaceous Ringdove (Streptopelia vinacea) and it’s closest relative the Cape Ringdove (Streptopelia capicola) are often heard as background bird sounds in many African nature programs. Both of these species have a similar voice to each other, with the exception of the Vinaceous male having several more "coos" in a row then the Cape Ringdove male.
The Vinaceous is the smallest, brightest and prettiest of all the "ring-necked" dove species found in Africa. This group of Ring-necked Doves; include the following species: the Half-collared or Red-eyed Dove; Eurasian Collared Dove; African Collared Dove; Deceptive Ringdove and several other species.
In comparisons of size I use the common domestic Ringneck Dove (Streptopelia risoria). The Vinaceous is about one half the size and slimmer then the Ringneck Dove.
The following description for the Vinaceous Ringdove is taken from "Pigeons and Doves of the World, by Derek Goodwin, 3rd, printing". Goodwin uses the European Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Ringneck Dove (Barbary dove) and Diamond Dove for his comparisons.
Appreciably smaller then a Barbary Dove (although very much larger then a Diamond Dove) and with a rather more sloping forehead. Head, neck, breast and underparts a soft vinous pink or fawnish pink, sometimes with a slight tinge of grey on crown and nape, shading to creamy white on the ventral area and white on the undertail coverts. A narrow black stripe from bill to eye. Broad black half-collar on hind neck. Upper parts light drab brown shading to pale bluish on outermost wing coverts. Outer secondaries black washed with a silver grey. Primaries and primary coverts black, or brownish black with narrow whitish fringes to outer webs, Central tail feathers greyish brown, outer ones black at base with end half greyish white. Underside of tail, basal half black, end half white. Under-wing bluish grey. Irides dark brown. Bill black, usually purplish at gape. Legs and feet purplish red or purple.
Sexes alike but the female tends to have the pinkish areas less vinous and more brownish, but this is only an average tendency not a definite difference. Juvenile duller, with pale buffish or pale rufous fringes to most feathers and collar indicated only by a blackish patch at each side of the neck.
The following are from my observations of the breeding pairs in my collection back in 1988 and currently in my collection. The females all have more brownish coloration compared to the males. Males have a courting call which may be a 8 to 21 "coo" sequence and is uttered several times when courting a female. This "coo sequence" can be affected by surrounding factors. The female also has a similar "coo" sequence, but is on average from 8 to 12 coo’s. This tends to make many fanciers believe they have only male Vinaceous. Besides this call the Vinaceous has two more calls when courting his intended mate. I have never heard the female Vinaceous utter either of these other two calls. (CALLS)
Two white eggs are laid, about 24 to 35 hours apart. Recorded one pair as laying the first egg late evening and the second egg was laid the following evening. Another pair was recorded as laying the first egg before 8 am and the second egg by the following evening. Both parents share the incubation and rearing of the young. Hens have nest duty from late afternoon through the night and up until about nine or ten in the morning. The male has the remaining time.
In my many years of keeping and observing dove behavior I have one simple conclusion – none of them read the books or articles which are written about them. Just when you think you have it figured out they up and do everything opposite of what is expected. Many times I have witnessed the opposite sex on the nest at times they are not supposed to be. In fact I have witnessed this nest swapping as many as five times during a single afternoon between mated pairs. This can apply to any specie.
The eggs are pipped in twelve days and the young are hatched the following day. The young are very dark skinned and covered with straw colored hair. At four weeks of age the young are off the nest and quite independent. The pinkish hue of the chest and head area begins to show. The wide black half collar is quite noticeable.
I obtained my first pair of Vinaceous Ringdoves from Perry Candianides in 1987. The male came from a fancier in Northern California and the hen was returned to Perry from a fancier in Alabama. It was said that both birds were infertile with their respective mates. Neither fancier had ever raised young from either bird in the previous two years. In Perry’s collection the two birds paired quickly and laid several clutches. These clutches also proved to be infertile. Since Perry was having trouble with fertility in his Socorro Doves and White-crowned Pigeons due to the water source in his area he sent the pair of Vinaceous Ringdoves to Texas.
Upon receiving the pair of Vinaceous I placed them into an aviary three feet wide, eight feet deep and six feet high. Of interest: all of my flight pens tops are covered with fiberglas and tin panels. This keeps all the doves from flying straight upwards – which is a flight mechanism when they flee from any type of danger – and scalping their heads or breaking their necks from the force of their impact into the wire.
The other occupants in this aviary were single breeding pairs of, Ruddy Quail Doves, Diamond Doves and a pair of Red-cheeked Cordon Blue Finches. Within three weeks of placing the pair of Vinaceous in the flight they selected a nest box. The nest container was an open front three sided box type. It was hanging on the east wall of the flight. Their first clutch of eggs soon followed.
Each time I was in the yard I noticed both Vinaceous off the nest. If I left the yard they would return to the nest. The eggs were deserted after three days. I fostered them under some African Collared Doves (Streptopelia roseogriesea). The eggs were checked for fertility & no indication of fertility was noticed. The pair went right back to the nest and laid another clutch about ten days later. Again the skittishness of the birds was observed. Again the clutch of eggs was deserted after a few days. These were also placed under foster birds and fertility was seen in one egg. The foster parents successfully hatched & raised the young Vinaceous.
The skittishness of the birds piqued my interest. I spoke with the few fanciers in the US who had this specie. All said the basically the same thing, the pairs were quick to come off the nest if they spotted the people and within a few days the eggs would be deserted. Fertility was very low among these fanciers. From my experience I figured the problem was the birds had not set correctly to begin the incubation process and by the time the deserted eggs were noticed the viability of them was past. I fostered the next clutch of eggs. Both eggs were fertile and both young were raised. I had to move the Vinaceous to another similar sized flight in the same "block" of flights. The birds never missed a beat, except the first clutch in the new flight they sat the clutch of eggs and raised their own young. They still came off the nest when they saw me, but within five minutes one or the other would be back on the eggs.
I concluded that the birds had finally figured I was not going away and that I was a part of their daily routine. I spend a lot of time around the flights so eventually all of my birds become used to me coming and going. So, they adjusted to me being around and settled down to raise their family.
This aspect of Vinaceous Ringdove behavior is still seen in the pairs I currently keep. If the birds are on eggs or young they come off as soon as I enter the area, but within a few minutes they return to the nest. This is not species specific, it occurs in many of the Exotic species of doves/pigeons during the nesting cycle. One tip I try to follow is to place the nesting containers so that the birds can see me when I enter the yard. If they cannot see me I try to walk around so that they can see me so that they can quietly leave the nest. If they are scared off the nest unexpectedly the possibility exists of them knocking the eggs or chicks to the ground.
The history of the Vinaceous Ringdoves in US collections is limited. I have only found one other article written about this specie. The following history is taken from many conversations with the fanciers having this specie before I wrote the original article. The first Vinaceous Ringdoves in US collections appeared in the collection of Perry Candianides of California. This was in the early 1970’s. He obtained three males and one female. In the capable hands of this very experienced dove breeder many young from all these first imports were being propagated. Care was taken to pair birds as distantly related as possible. Within a few years many of Perry’s friends in the dove fancy had added this species to their collections.
In the 1980’s two importation’s of new blood occurred, even though it was only a few birds each time. They added to the bloodline of the birds currently in US collections. Maybe in the future more will appear in a bird importation.
Until then, we as fanciers and breeders of the birds in our collections, we need to keep accurate records of all our breeding successes and share the offspring with other who also have the same specie or who are interested in adding it to their own bird collection. We all need to work together to ensure our children’s children will be able to say they raise the same species in captivity and that none have gone the way of the Passenger Pigeon.