Spotted Dove as Pet?

It is the second time in less than a year that I am hand-feeding a lost Spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis) chick. The first time it happened was after a powerful typhoon blew the helpless baby bird to my neighbour’s garden where it sat still, wet and confused, waiting for a predator to have an easy meal. I used a mixture of soft millet and special powder for lories and lorikeets which I dissolved in water, heated up to 40°C and fed to the bird’s beak with the help of a long, narrow syringe, twice a day. I repeated the procedure with the most recent victim and I am happy to say that, after a week of feeding it, the chick is doing great!

One substantial difference between last year’s case and this one is the fact that last year the chick’s parents were around, worryingly observing the proceedings from a nearby tree. As such, my task was much simpler – the parents used every opportunity to feed their baby and once the young bird was capable of flying, I simply let it go. After a day or two that it spent in one of the trees in our garden, it disappeared into the wilderness and I’ve never seen it since. I was happy in the knowledge that the young bird’s parents were there to guide their offspring and to teach it the necessary survival skills. In fact, even though I fed the bird for a week, it still showed signs of fear whenever I approached it, which I thought was good.

Things are different this time. The baby dove currently in my possession is obviously an orphan, with no one to look after it, except myself. As a result, it is getting more and more attached to me. When we are outside it always flies to wherever I happen to be in the garden and it often just hops onto my shoulder or top of my head, just for fun. It happily responds to my calls and it flaps its young wings excitedly every time I appear in its line of vision. I expected the chick to fledge and simply fly away, just like the last one, but now I am starting to wonder whether it will try to hang around our house for days and weeks to come. After all, the bird clearly understands that I have limitless supply of quality food that I am happy to share, so it makes sense to stay.

For the first few days, while the chick still couldn’t fly, I kept it inside the house to protect it from the neighbourhood cat and also from snakes which appear around the house from time to time. Yesterday was the first day that I left the bird in the fig tree outside our house and it remained there all day. I still brought it in for the night. Today is the young bird’s second day in the fig tree, but this time it must have gotten bored with the same leaves around and, after a while, it jetted over to another tree for a change of scenery. The young dove sits fairly high on a branch, so I’ll need a ladder to get it down when tonight’s feeding time arrives.

Spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis)

One part of me wants the bird to stay around for a bit longer, to hang around the house, even to land on my shoulder from time to time if it so desires. But there is another part which hopes that the wild animal will eventually go where it belongs – to its natural environment where it can grow up, learn to find food, seek a mate and produce offsprings. After all, the young dove didn’t arrive into my life as a pet, but as a victim that needed help to survive. Still, I keep wondering whether this growing bond between the bird and myself will allow it to make a successful transition back to the wilderness…

(This page has been viewed 1536 times.)

8 Responses to Spotted Dove as Pet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *