How Long Do Doves Live?

How Long Do Doves Live

Have you ever found yourself wonder-struck by the graceful flight of a dove and wondered, just how long do these beautiful birds live? Well, I’ve got your answer, friend. On average, doves enjoy a life span of 10 to 15 years in the wild. But under our attentive care as pet owners, they can live up to 20 years, and sometimes even more!

Here we are, embarking on a fascinating journey to uncover the secrets behind these creatures’ longevity. From species specifics to the influence of diet, environment, and healthcare, we’ll delve into it all. But remember, this is not just about facts and figures. It’s about understanding our feathered friends, contributing to their quality of life, and in return, enriching our own lives with their peaceful presence. Ready to take flight on this journey with me? Let’s dive in!

Overview of Doves

Doves are an integral part of the family Columbidae, which comprises over 300 species of birds, encompassing what we know as pigeons and doves. The terms ‘pigeon’ and ‘dove’ are often used interchangeably, though ‘dove’ is usually reserved for smaller species within this extensive family.

Characteristics of Doves

Doves are distinct in their appearance and behavior. They are relatively small birds, usually 9-16 inches in size, with compact bodies and short necks. Their plumage is often soft and smooth, displaying a wide variety of colors and patterns depending on the species. Some common characteristics include:

  • Soft Plumage: Doves are known for their soft, smooth feathers that can range in color from pure white to grey, brown, and even multicolored in some species. Their feathers often have a sleek sheen, adding to their allure.
  • Distinctive Cooing Sound: One of the most recognizable characteristics of doves is their distinctive cooing sound. This soothing coo acts as a communication method, primarily used by males to attract females.
  • Diet: Doves are primarily granivorous, which means their diet mostly consists of seeds. However, some species also consume fruits, green vegetation, and occasionally, small insects and worms.

Dove Species and Habitats

With over 300 species, doves are found across the globe, inhabiting every continent except Antarctica. They have adapted to a wide range of environments, from scorching deserts and dense forests to mountainous regions and urban landscapes.

  • Ring-Necked Dove: Also known as the Cape Turtle Dove, this species is native to Africa. They are distinguished by a black ‘ring’ around their neck.
  • Mourning Dove: This species is common in North America. They are light gray-brown with a slightly pinkish hue on the chest.
  • Rock Dove (Pigeon): This is the species most commonly referred to as ‘pigeons.’ They are native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia but have successfully adapted to urban areas worldwide.

Doves’ adaptability and worldwide distribution have made them a fascinating subject of study for many bird enthusiasts. Understanding these basics about doves provides a foundation for learning about their lifespans, which can vary significantly based on various factors.

Read also: How Long Do Owls Live

How Long Do Doves Live?

Dove lifespans can vary greatly, largely dependent on their species and whether they are in the wild or captivity. On average, most doves have a lifespan ranging from 10 to 15 years in the wild. However, under optimal care and nutrition in captivity, doves can live up to 20 years or longer.

Lifespan Across Species

The lifespan of a dove can also be influenced by the specific species. For instance:

  • Mourning Doves: These common North American doves have a relatively short lifespan, with wild individuals living up to 5 years on average. However, in captivity, these doves have been known to live up to 15 years or more.
  • Eurasian Collared Doves: A relatively new species to North America, these doves have been observed to live for 10 to 17 years in the wild.
  • Ring-Necked Doves: This African species can live up to 10 to 15 years in the wild, while in captivity, with appropriate care, they can live well into their twenties.

Wild vs Captive Lifespan

In the wild, doves are subject to various threats like predators, harsh environmental conditions, and diseases, which can significantly impact their lifespan. In contrast, doves in captivity are protected from many of these risks and are often provided with a balanced diet and healthcare, thus extending their lifespan.

For instance, the Mourning Dove, with an average lifespan of up to 5 years in the wild, can live up to three times longer in captivity with the right care.

However, it is important to note that these numbers represent averages, and actual lifespans can vary due to a multitude of factors.

Read also: How Long Do Blackbirds Live?

Factors Influencing Dove Lifespan

A multitude of factors can influence the lifespan of doves, ranging from diet and environmental conditions to disease prevalence and the species itself. Let’s delve into these critical aspects.

How Long Do Doves Live


Diet plays a significant role in determining a dove’s lifespan. As granivorous birds, doves primarily consume seeds. However, a diet solely consisting of seeds can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, it’s crucial to supplement a dove’s diet with a variety of food sources. Key points include:

  • Diversity in Diet: Besides seeds, doves can consume fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Pet doves can be offered a diverse diet to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients.
  • Nutritionally Balanced Diet: The diet should be rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Commercially available dove feeds often meet these requirements.


The environment that doves inhabit significantly influences their lifespan. Factors to consider include:

  • Habitat: Doves need a safe, stress-free environment to thrive. In the wild, this means places with ample food and fewer predators. In captivity, this translates to spacious, clean cages or aviaries.
  • Climate: Doves are quite adaptable to different climates. However, extreme conditions can impact their health and subsequently, their lifespan.


Diseases can severely affect a dove’s lifespan. Doves are prone to a range of diseases like parasites, avian influenza, and trichomoniasis. Regular health checks and good hygiene can help prevent disease outbreak.


The lifespan also varies across species. While most dove species average a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, some species naturally live longer than others, like the Ring-Necked Dove, which can live up to 20 years in captivity.

Understanding these factors can greatly assist in providing optimal care for both wild and pet doves, potentially enhancing their lifespan and quality of life.

Read also: How Long Do Finches Live?

Dove Lifespan in the Wild vs. Captivity

Understanding the difference in the lifespan of doves in the wild versus captivity provides insight into how environmental factors and care can impact a dove’s life.

Lifespan in the Wild

In the wild, doves face a host of challenges that can impact their lifespan. These include:

  • Predation: Doves, being smaller birds, often fall prey to larger birds, snakes, and other predators. This natural threat significantly impacts their survival rate and, by extension, their lifespan.
  • Food Scarcity: In times of drought or in harsher climates, finding food can become a challenge for doves. Malnutrition or starvation can, unfortunately, result in a shorter lifespan.
  • Disease: Wild doves can be exposed to various diseases with little to no access to healthcare, which can drastically reduce their lifespan.
  • Harsh Weather Conditions: Extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or high temperatures can pose a threat to doves in the wild, affecting their longevity.

Lifespan in Captivity

Contrastingly, doves in captivity are protected from many of the threats they would face in the wild. Factors that can prolong their lifespan include:

  • Balanced Diet: In captivity, doves are provided with a nutritionally balanced diet, ensuring they receive all the necessary nutrients for a healthy life.
  • Safe Environment: Pet doves are housed in safe, predator-free environments, reducing the risk of premature death due to predation.
  • Healthcare: Regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and prompt treatment of illnesses can significantly improve the lifespan of captive doves.
  • Stress-free Lifestyle: With consistent access to food and a safe environment, doves in captivity lead a less stressful life compared to their wild counterparts. Reduced stress is beneficial for their overall health and longevity.

Understanding the difference in lifespan between wild and captive doves underscores the importance of providing optimal care to pet doves. With the right conditions, they can lead a long and fulfilling life.

Read also: How Long Do Crows Live?

Improving Lifespan of Pet Doves

With the right care and attention, pet doves can enjoy a long, healthy life. Here are several key strategies for improving the lifespan of pet doves:


A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial to a dove’s health and longevity.

  • Diverse Diet: Besides seeds, include fruits, vegetables, and legumes in your dove’s diet. These additional foods not only provide essential nutrients but also introduce variety to prevent boredom.
  • Fresh Water: Always ensure that your dove has access to clean, fresh water.


The right environment can greatly impact the lifespan of your pet dove.

  • Cage Size: Doves need a spacious cage to move and fly around. Ensure your dove’s cage is large enough for them to spread their wings fully and fly short distances.
  • Cleanliness: Maintain cleanliness to prevent disease. Regularly clean the cage, perches, and feeding bowls.
  • Safety: The cage should be placed in a quiet, safe location away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Health Checks

Regular health checks can ensure your dove is in good health and any potential problems are detected early.

  • Veterinary Care: Regular vet visits can help detect and treat any health problems at an early stage.
  • Signs of Illness: Monitor your dove for any signs of illness, such as changes in behavior, eating habits, or droppings.

Mental Stimulation

Doves are social creatures and need mental stimulation for a healthy life.

  • Social Interaction: Spend time with your pet dove daily, talking and interacting with them.
  • Toys and Activities: Provide toys and encourage activities to keep them mentally engaged.

By following these tips, you can create a nurturing environment that promotes longevity and quality of life for your pet dove. In doing so, you may enjoy the companionship of your feathered friend for many years to come.

Read also: Do Cardinals Mate For Life?

Final Thoughts

As we bring our enlightening journey about dove lifespan to a close, let’s revisit the heart of our quest. Doves can live between 10 to 15 years in the wild, and with our loving care in captivity, their lifespan extends to 20 years or more.

It’s been a joy sharing these insights with you, from exploring the factors influencing their longevity to ways we can help our pet doves live fuller, happier lives. It’s clear that our actions play a crucial role in their well-being. In return, we’re gifted with their soothing presence and coo, filling our homes and hearts with peace.

In understanding and cherishing these gentle creatures, we not only contribute to their lives but also enrich ours. Let’s keep fostering this precious bond with our feathered friends. It’s a rewarding journey, isn’t it?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the average lifespan of a dove?

On average, most doves live for 10 to 15 years in the wild. However, in captivity, with a balanced diet, healthcare, and a safe environment, they can live up to 20 years or even longer.

2. Does the species of dove affect its lifespan?

Yes, the species of a dove can significantly influence its lifespan. For example, Mourning Doves typically live for up to 5 years in the wild, while Eurasian Collared Doves can live up to 10 to 17 years in their natural habitats.

3. Why do pet doves live longer than wild doves?

Pet doves live longer than their wild counterparts because they have regular access to a balanced diet, receive healthcare, and live in safe, predator-free environments. These factors reduce risks and stress, thus enhancing their lifespan.

4. How can I increase the lifespan of my pet dove?

To increase your pet dove’s lifespan, provide a balanced and diverse diet, a spacious and clean cage, regular health checks, and plenty of social interaction. Also, ensure they have mental stimulation through toys and activities.

5. Are doves prone to any specific diseases that can affect their lifespan?

Doves are prone to a range of diseases like avian influenza, parasites, and trichomoniasis. Regular health checks, good hygiene, and a balanced diet can help prevent disease outbreak, thus improving their lifespan.

Martin Cooper

Hello and welcome! I’m an avid bird enthusiast, dedicated to observing, understanding, and documenting our feathery friends. I hope my passion and knowledge inspires your own avian admiration! Join me as we soar into this fascinating world.

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