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.
Lee Chiu San
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.
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato Dr)
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.
Dear Amar and Chiu San, thanks for sharing the knowledge.
Sangsun Cheon Park
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. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Chng Geam Liang
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.