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How to Tell if Ringneck Doves are Boys or Girls

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The differences between male and female ringneck doves, also known as Barbary doves, are not easy to spot. Even experienced dove fanciers find sexing these types of doves a challenge, but a few techniques can help you to determine if your little doves are boys or girls.

Body Language and Behavior

Observing ringneck doves, and watching their behavioral cues and body language is a method that is used by experienced fanciers to sex Barbary doves. Male and female ringneck doves do display different courtship behaviors, including billing, crouching, bow coos, display flights and driving. Becoming familiar with these behaviors, and which behaviors are exhibited most commonly by the different sexes, can help you to sort out male and female doves fairly quickly. Keep in mind though that this method is not always accurate; while rare, female ringneck doves may display body language more often associated with males and vice versa.

Pelvic Width

The pelvic bone test is another method that fanciers use to sex ringneck doves. This test is based on the slight differences between the pelvic bones of male and female Barbary doves. To perform this test, the pelvic bone is palpated gently while holding the bird. The male’s pelvic bone feels stiffer and more pointed at the tips, plus it has a smaller width. The female’s pelvic bone is curvier with a softer and rounder feel at the tips. According to dove fancier John Pire, the pelvic bone test is not always accurate either; while outside of the norm, ringneck males may have soft pelvic bones and ringneck females may have hard pelvic bones.

Pairing and Egg Checks

Pairing two ringneck doves together is one foolproof sexing method, although it will take time. Two females that are paired together eventually will lay two eggs each, and so the roost will contain a total of four eggs. Two males together will produce no eggs. If one female and one male are paired together, the female eventually will lay two eggs and the eggs may hatch. Of course if the eggs hatch, you will have a definitive answer. Pair ringneck doves when they are 9-12 months old and sexually mature. It may take anywhere from a few months to a few weeks for the breeding cycle to begin. Fertilized eggs hatch about 14 days after they are laid.

DNA Testing

DNA testing is the only method that will give you 100% accurate ringneck dove sexing results in a short amount of time. Your local avian veterinarian can remove feathers safely, or obtain a sample of blood, for DNA analysis. The samples are sent to an outside laboratory that will perform the testing. It also is possible to test material that is left in eggs after hatching, if you would like to know the sex of ringneck dove hatchlings immediately. Test results usually are available within 1-2 weeks