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Doves Saved in Va. Beach, Available for Adoption



Coo. Coo.

Barbara Gipson's up to her ears in the sound of male ring-necked doves flirting.

While she says their crooning is actually a calming refrain around the Virginia Beach Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals office, she's ready to find homes for pairs in the flock.

Gipson, other staff members and volunteers nursed nearly 100 ring-necked doves - named for a distinctive black ring of feathers - back to health this summer after they were rescued from a Zuni shed.

Now they're ready for adoption.

"We have to reach bird lovers," said Gipson, VBSPCA wildlife director.

These doves make good pets because they're low-maintenance, Gipson said, adding, "They don't have the same requirements as larger exotics."

No need for expensive toys or intense attention. They simply need food, water, a companion dove and a clean, wide cage to walk around in.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals rescued the doves in May from a hoarding situation, said Laura Brown, PETA animal sheltering and care specialist.

A neighbor had called the Norfolk-based agency about cats on the property that needed to be spayed and neutered. PETA staff visited the home and discovered the birds living in a small shed with several inches of feces covering the ground, Brown said.

They observed them nesting on and eating their food off the waste. Several birds had lost feathers on their necks and chests from fighting for space.

"Severe overcrowding was exacerbating everything," Brown said.

VBSPCA accepted the birds and treated them. They've never had so many birds at one time, Gipson said.

She observed the cooing between them and tried to pair up several couples in separate cages. Ring-necked doves thrive better with a mate. They're monogamous and breed at least twice a year.

It's mating season, and Gipson must pull eggs daily from the aviary, where about 50 of them are housed. Dozens more are living temporarily with volunteer wildlife rehabilitators.

A beige male cooed and bowed alongside a peach-colored female perched in the VBSPCA aviary Thursday.

"He's saying, 'I'm so handsome, I'm so handsome!' " Gibson said.

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