Ringneck Dove




Photos courtesy of Dr. Wilmer J. Miller


by Wilmer J. Miller and W. F. Hollander

Ringneck or laughing doves are not native to America or even to Europe--they have been bred in cages since biblical times, as pets and for magicians' acts. Only two types were kept until the 20th century: white (often called sacred), and blond (=fawn).

There are several wild species of "collared" doves in Africa and Asia. Our domestic ringnecks clearly originated from the"rosy-gray" species of N.E. Africa. Apparently the dove keepers of a thousand or more years ago liked the white and blond variants and got rid of the dark wild-colored birds, but we have obtained "darks" again. They have a lovely violet shading of the head and neck plumage.

Scientific studies of the doves began by the end of the 1800's at the University of Chicago, by Prof. Charles O. Whitman and his students. Soon after, other researchers began using doves, notably Prof. Leon J. Cole and his students at the University of Wisconisn, and Prof. Alessandro Ghigi and his students in Italy, Whitman first noted sex-linkage of the white color, and he also discovered pied coloration. Cole worked out the relationships of white, blond, and dark--all are simple alternatives, and are sex-linked.

Prof. M. Tange in Japan reported an albino type, unrelated to ordinary white (which is really an extreme-dilute condition). The albino mutant is not sex-linked. We imported it from Japan in 1967. A cross of albino male with white female can give 100% colored squabs (not albino or white).

The "peach" coloration was discovered in the USA. We have determined that it is really the combination effect of a new recessive mutation, which we named "rosy", with blond.

"Ivory" was found and named in Italy. The same recessive mutation was also later found in the USA. Crossing ivory with rosy has led to producing the "cream" coloration.

The "pied" mutation was again found in the USA and has been crossed with others to give combinations.

The "tangerine" (or "Mandarin") mutation was discovered in Austria and later imported to America. This was the first dominant mutation (really codominant) known in the doves. Crossing it with other color types has produced several new important combinations, such as "pink", "orange", and "apricot".

The latest discovery in the USA has been the "frosty" mutant also dominant (or possibly codominant). Crossing with tangerine has produced the combination effect "ash", and with rosy, "coral".

In Europe several new mutations have been discovered recently by H. van Grouw of Holland, but have not been imported yet to the USA (1998).

The end is not in sight!

Selected References:

Cole, L. J. 1930 "A study of hybrid doves." Aviculture 2 (Feb): 27-30.

Delacour, J. 1980 "Wild pigeons and doves." TFH publications. [error on species name], with photos by Axelrod.

Goodwin, D. 1970 "Pigeons and doves of the World." 2nd Edition. British Museum Natural AHistory Publication #663

Miller, W. J. Genetics of the ringneck dove, Streptopelia risoria, I. Overview American Dove Association Newsletter (ADAN) (May/Jun 84): 3-5

 _______II. Description of mutants-albino, autosomal recessive = al ADAN (Sep/Oct 84): 3-5

_______III. _______-Ivory-autosomal recessive-iv. ADAN (Nov/Dec 84): 6-8

_______IV. _______-pied-autosomal recessive-pi ADAN (Jan/Feb 85): 9-1

______ V. _______-rosy-autosomal recessive-ry ADAN (Sep/Oct 85): 4-5 &(May/Jun 88): 5-6

______ Dark-Blond-White: Sex-linked alternatives in ringneck doves. ADAN (Jan/Feb): 6-10

Miller, W. J. and W. F. Hollander 1993 "Kurze Geschichte der Farbschlage bei Lachtauben" Geflügel-Börse (Munich, Germnany) 119 (13): 10-13. with color photos English translation "Short history of color types in ringneck doves" DoveLine 1999?

Whitman, C. D. 1919 Posthumous works on doves and pigeons. Carnegie Institution of Washington publication 257 (3 volumes).

Used by Permission of Dr. Wilmer. Visit his site at: http://www.ringneckdove.com/


by Wilmer J. Miller and Willard F. Hollander, USA Translation with recent modifications of an article in German published with photos in color. Geflügel-Börse 114 # 13, 1993. Modified December 1998

Tame laughing doves, Streptopelia risoria, apparently have been bred before 2,000 years ago as religious sacrifice birds, in cages, and later as pets. Up to about 50 years ago only 2 varieties were known: blond (fawn) and white (extreme dilute). Since about 1960 there has been an explosion of new beautiful colors.

It is no mystery: dove breeders began looking for rare mutants and identifying them and breeding stocks. Previously, about 1930, M. Tange in Japan studied a mutant, true albino, which is inherited as simple recessive to normal color. In 1951 W. J. Miller discovered a male dove which had silky plumage. This mutant produced many similar progeny. It was not recessive, but rather codominant. Combined with white it gave a very attractive variety. But one should not mate silky birds together (except for experimental purposes) because homozygous progeny (1/4) have very fragile feathers and become "porcupine-like".

One must understand that the two old color varieties, blond and white, are also mutants. The coloration of the wild form is by contrast much darker than blond. This ancestral species, scientifically named Streptopelia roseogrisea, lives in northeastern Africa and in the vicinity of the Red Sea. It resembles somewhat the larger Turkish dove or Eurasian collared dove, S. decaocto. Through the many centuries in cages the two light-colored mutants were preferred, so that the dark wild type was lost from human care. [It is also possible that the blond form, and even the white phase, occurred in the wild and were preferentially selected for breeding.] But we like dark birds too, and therefore, obtained some from Egypt for comparison. Wild-colored birds are not necessarily shy.

Next a dove fancier in Ohio discovered the "peach" mutant color, This color variety is really a combination of 2 mutants: blond with a new recessive mutant which is now called "rosy". Then some pied doves appeared in Arizona and California. Richard Burger in Delaware bought some of these birds for us. The adults usually show rather symmetrical piebaldness, but the juvenile plumage looks grizzle. This mutant also is inherited as a recessive.

Still another recessive color mutant "ivory" was discovered by Prof. Taibel in Italy. The same mutant was bred by some fanciers in Louisiana and Texas, as Richard Burger found out. Now this variety is plentifully available. Prof. Tange's albino mutant still existed in Japan. Therefore, we wanted to get it too and in 1967 we imported 6 birds to the USA. Albinism causes some visual impairment, but in other respects it is a pretty variety.

About 1973 Alois Münst discovered some orange-colored doves in Czechoslovakia. Richard Burger obtained some from Münst for America in 1981. We found that orange is a combinatin of blond with a new intermediate dominant muant now called "tangerine (Mandarin)". Homozygous birds are lighter than heterozygous ones and often have lacing (=pearling) on the wing shield. There are now already many orange and tangerine doves in the USA. The orange and especially the tangerine types usually have a flecking which can appear to be feather lice(!).

About 1988 Gary Harding in Kansas discovered a new delicate color muant, now named "frosty", which is a dominant or codominant. [We guess that the color called "ice" is the homozygote, but we have not seen any data demonstrating this.]

So you see how new color varieties arise: first someone accidentally discovers a novel type and breeds it. Then the breeder crosses different mutant types together to produce combinations. Some combinations are attractive and are given special names. For example, white and pied together give black-eyed white, and frosty with tangerine produce ash colored. Distinctive color effects are possible with some dominant mutants in homozygous vs heterozygous form, e.g., with frosty or tangerine. And each color can be combined with silky. But not all combinations are attractive or valuable. For example, all combinatins of colors with albino look albino. The peculiarities of the individual mutants often, but not always, allow us to predict which combinations will be desirable.

 New color types have turned up in Holland and are being analyzed by Hein van Grouw.

Dove color varieties don't always need to be purebred. Crosses are often interesting genetic examples. We are studying also some mutants which are unattractive or even detrimental, but scientifically interesting.

There is indeed something new under the sun!

Used by Permission of Dr. Wilmer. Visit his site at: http://www.ringneckdove.com/