Mating Zebra Doves and distinguishing the sexes

on 2nd June 2014

A pair of mating Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) was photographed by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS on 22nd February 2013 in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

The images, especially that of the pair in the act of copulation, allow for the sexes to be distinguished (above).

The sexes are very similar except that the centre of the female’s breast is narrower, the barring extending further onto the breast (Gibbs et al., 2001). In the images above and below, the male is on the left.

Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. & Cox, J. (2001). Pigeons and doves: A guide to the pigeons and doves of the world. Sussex: Pica Press. 615 pp.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

5 Responses

  1. While Amar’s observation is a good generalisation, it cannot be depended upon for 100% accuracy in sexing Zebra Doves. This species is very widely kept in aviculture, and is probably the most popular species used in bird-singing competitions in this region. Among the thousands of birds in breeding farms you will find males with barred chests and females with very few markings. Behaviour is still a more accurate guide for sexing. Males bow and display. I have not yet seen a female do so. And unlike some other species, where the calls of the males and the females are very distinct, with doves, song is also not a 100% indication of sex. Some females are good singers.

    1. Appreciate the response Chiu San. Agree about the bowing, but again behavior we will see only during courting. I have been trying to get as many mating images as possible to verify what Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. & Cox, J. (2001) state (as well as some international experts) so that we can try an ID males & females when not courting.

  2. Thank you! I’m from the Philippines, and my uncle used to catch birds at our backyard as a hobby. He caught two birds of the same species. I didn’t know what was the exact name of species that bird was. After I searched on the internet, now I know it was a “Zebra Dove” but its really difficult to distinguish which one is a female or a male. But, thank you so much for all these information they are also safe at home. We are also taking good care of them. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. I have hand raised a fledgling – abandoned, hurt – which was handed to me. 3 weeks now. Doing well. Imprinted on me and family. Struggling to wean it to seeds. Anyway to help determine its sex? Not that it mattered unless related to diet or needs. Thanks.

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