Applying Ringneck Color Genetics to Eurasian Collared Doves
by John Pire & Perry Candianides
Published in the CDA Bulletin 2002

I have been interested in the different color mutations bred in the Ringneck Dove (Streptopelia risoria). With advice and expertise from some of the best known "dove" geneticists in the United States I decided to apply my knowledge to produce some Eurasian Collared Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) in some of the colors being bred in the Ringneck Dove.

Before the importation of the African Collared Dove (Streptopelia roseogriesea) the "risoria" was only found in two colors: Fawn & White. With the "wild" ancestor becoming available the "color explosion" in Ringneck Doves took off.

It has been 50 plus years since this phenomenon started and in the mid 1980s a new & interesting color was found. This new color was found in the Czech Republic, imported into Canada and eventually imported into the US. The "Orange" was brought into Canada & with further breeding the Tangerine, Tangerine Pearled & Orange Pearled mutants were developed by Ken Becker.

The "tangerine" color was found to be a dominant color, along with the "wild type" color. It is considered a co-dominant color. The major detail in this new color mutation was the "solid" white neck ring contrasted by the dark tangerine body color. This color along with its dilute form: ORANGE and the Pearled mutations in these colors sparked keen interest within the dove fancy.

Using the knowledge I learned about genetics of the colors found in the "risoria" I began a project to produce the ECD (Eurasian Collared Dove) in these colors. To date I have produced Tangerine, Orange, Fawn (Blond), Rosy and Pied ECDs.

Check out the "TABLE OF CONTENTS" for articles showing the characteristic differences between the risoria & decaocto.

I have had the ECD since the early 80s and was already raising Fawn ECD, from stock I had gotten from different sources.

Crossing the ECD with the Ringneck to obtain "mutant" ECD is very simple. Both are members of the STREPTOPELIA genus & fertility is nearly 100%. The hybrids of "one half"; "three quarters" & "seven eighths" back to ECD lineage can still have attributes for the "risoria" lineage; whether in the markings, voice or both.

This information & data goes back to about 1994. The process of "putting" the intended color into the ECD takes a minimum of four backcrosses to pure ECD lineage to eliminate any "risoria" attributes.

The process is slow, because most known color mutants are recessive to wild type and tangerine. With the colors being recessive, it added more steps then when I produced the Tangerine ECD.

Example: to produce the Pied (a recessive gene) ECD, I had to start with a visual pied Ringneck and a pure wild type ECD. All young will be hybrid ECD; will also be wild type in color and carry "pied" hidden. I had to pair two of these hybrids with the hidden pied gene to produce a visual pied bird. This visual pied then had to be paired with a pure unrelated ECD of opposite sex. The resulting offspring will be ECD, be wild type color and carry the pied hidden. These splits are paired together until a visual pied is produced. The visual pied is bred to a pure ECD and 7/8 wild type carrying pied young are the result. These 7/8 splits are paired together to produce a 7/8 visual pied. The 7/8 visual pied is paired to a pure ECD & the young will be 15/16, wild type and all will carry pied hidden. Breeding the 15/16 together to produce a 15/16 visual pied is the next step. I now had Pied ECDs. This scenario applies to any of the recessive colors you may want to breed in the ECD.

Producing two separate lines for the same color will help in pairing unrelated split birds. Pairing siblings to obtain a visual bird is acceptable, but unrelated stock should be added to keep the birds genetically strong.

I obtained a Tangerine Ringneck/Eurasian hen hybrid. This hen was paired with a male Wild Type ECD known to carry the "dilute" (fawn/blond) gene hidden.

I produced offspring in the following colors: Tangerine (both sexes), Wild Type (both sexes), Fawn (Blond) & Orange. The dilute of Wild Type is Fawn & the dilute of Tangerine is Orange. I knew the proven risoria data already showed that the "dilute" gene was sex-linked and that these Fawn & Orange young could only be hens.

The Tangerine Pearled is currently being worked on. This is quite simple; breeding two Tangerine together & the homozygous form: "Tangerine Pearled" is produced. It is said that the percentage should be 50% Tangerine & 50% Tangerine Pearled, but the data shows it to be a bit less then 50%.

Since the recessive genes, other then "pied" cannot be visually observed in a bird, which carries it; test breeding these birds must be done to verify if the young received the recessive gene from the parent bird. A recessive gene can be passed to all or only a percentage of the young & can be passed on for many generations before the combinations are correct for it to appear. It is said that in about 10% of the birds, which carry the "pied" gene hidden, a flecking of white feathers shows in the head area. This can be from a single feather to several feathers.

In further test breeding my ECD it was found that the "pied & rosy" gene (both recessive) were carried hidden in the original Tangerine hen hybrid.

The "pied" was the first to be found. I obtained a male fawn pied "risoria" from the local pet store. Needing this male to pair with one of the Wild Type hen ECD and being utilized as a foster pair. I forgot to control this pairs nesting & one day I was presented with a wild type pied youngster in their nest. For this pied youngster to be produced the ECD hen had to carry pied hidden. The visual pied gene from the male parent and the hidden pied gene from the hen came together to produce this visual pied young. This particular ECD hen died before any further test breeding could be done. I did have other ECD hens from the same parents, but to date no other pied young have been produced using a visual pied. This showed that these hens did not receive the pied gene from the original hybrid hen. NOTE: Breeding a visual pied male to the original Tangerine hybrid hen produced a visual pied youngster therefore proving this hen carried the pied gene.

Breeding this first visual Wild Type Pied male back to a pure Wild Type ECD hen produced one wild type male, one wild type hen and two fawn hens. All four young carried the pied gene hidden. The fawn hens proved that the visual male wild type pied parent carried the "dilute" gene. This "dilute" gene was received from his father, the fawn pied risoria.

Test breeding these four young produced pied young. The wild type female with the pied gene hidden cannot carry the "dilute" hidden, as this mutant gene is sex-linked. Any fawn young would indicate the "dilute" hidden in the male parent. Also any fawn pied young produced would indicate the "dilute gene". This test pair also produced fawn young proving the "dilute" was carried by the male parent.

Producing a minimum of ten young in genetic research is an accepted amount to prove or disprove the existence of the "hidden" gene. Of interest, when delving into the genetic research if any visual mutant young are produced before the recommended number of young to be produced the next step in the research can be started.

Since I was not interested in any other color except the mutant color, I culled the young as soon as I determined their color. When I raised four birds of the mutant color consisting of two of each sex I would start the next test group. Using 16 pair of foster birds I could propagate the number of visual mutant birds I needed in a short time.

When I saw the "rosy" youngster in the nest, it was a bit of a surprise. In researching the ancestry of the original birds, no mention of any "rosy" gene was made. However, upon more inquiries it was possible that the "pied" bird in the ancestry could have been a Rosy Pied or a Pied, which carried the rosy gene.

The "Rosy" young was produced from two wild type that had been utilized for fostering. Before the Rosy hatched, this pair was never allowed to raise their own young. By accident I forgot to check on their nesting & the Rosy was hatched & raised. This pair was allowed to produce a couple of more clutches. They produced a fawn & a peach young. These young genetically were hens. This proved that both parent birds carried rosy & the male parent also carried dilute. Breeding the Rosy young back to pure ECD produced all wild type young & all carried rosy hidden. Also any of the males could have received the "dilute" gene hidden.

My current test is pure Rosy male ECD to pure Wild Type ECD hen. All young should be wild type & carry rosy hidden. If any "dilute" young are produced then the Rosy male carries it hidden. These dilute young will only be hens, because "dilute" is sex-linked. Fawn or Peach hens can be produced if the male carries dilute. The "dilute" of Rosy is Peach.

There are some very good articles on the genetics of the common Ringneck Dove which are very helpful & interesting on the IDS (International Dove Society) web site or in the ADA article Archives.

With the ECD spreading across the US and is currently documented in almost all of the Texas Counties I have plenty of "wild stock" to use in my breeding programs.

It is said that with 50 plus years of crossing the many known colors, with each other, in the "risoria" that the percentage of a Ringneck which does not carry a hidden color may be less then 10%.

It is exciting doing this research, using a basically "wild" bird for which very little deviation from the pure wild color is known or found. An interesting facet has come to light with my introducing the colors into the ECD. I am finding that there is not a lot of unexpected results or as much variation of the colors being produced as in risoria. I am seeing things that the first genetic researchers probably saw when they started breeding the different colors in the risoria.

One such item is when I breed for the Orange ECD, the adult body and wing shield coloration is very close to the Tangerine, but lacks the amethyst color on the head & neck areas as the Tangerine male & female have. Upon seeing the Orange ECD one would call it Tangerine & not Orange. The "orange" ECD is not as "diluted" as found in the Orange risoria. The Orange & Fawn are "pink-skinned at birth. The Tangerine & Wild Type are dark-skinned at birth.

I have found that the known colors/mutants and their inheritances found in the Ringneck Dove when applied to the ECD follow the same known rules. I am currently working on introducing several other known risoria colors into the ECD. It will be interesting to see the "frosty" gene & its affect it may have on the ECD.

Remember, use common sense and utilize sensible breeding practices when doing this type of research. Never allow the hybrid birds to be offered as anything less or more then what they are to unsuspecting fanciers.