Doves, or birds in general, are lovely to keep as pets but require a little more tender loving care than their feline or canine counterparts. Dogs and cats can move around and find a nice, cosy spot when the temperature drops during the nights. Those who are lucky enough to have their own cots or beds are provided with light blankets as well so they can snuggle in when the weather gets a little chilly.
Birds on the other hand, have a light coat of feathers, but they really don’t help much when a draft suddenly blows. Moreover, birds are commonly kept outside in cages, which limits their ability to find a better spot where they can feel comfortable and warm.
In these cases, dove owners should be sensitive about sudden temperature shifts because these could place the birds in serious peril. Dovecotes or bird cages don’t provide much insulation too, considering that cages are mostly made out of wire. The “apartment-type” houses are made out of wood, so again, they don’t provide any insulation.
Keeping doves and pigeons warm during chilly evenings can be challenging, but it’s not an impossible task to do. Seasoned bird keepers know that adding a specific kind of light is needed to help keep the birds warm. Yellow, incandescent lamps are preferred over white ones because they give off a warmer glow. This is similar to what is used when chicks first hatch in nurseries. If the dovecote is large, you can hang one light every few feet and calculate the ratio based on the number of birds in the area.
You can also use a larger light so that it’s enough for about a dozen birds. The light can be switched on once night falls. The disadvantage of yellow light is that it can make the birds think that it’s still daytime outside.
Alternatively, some dove owners use hot water bottles. The bottles are made out of glass or strong plastic so the birds can’t get through them even when they peck (they do have beaks, remember). Hot water is placed inside the bottles and the bottles are placed in corners of the dovecotes. What this does is it distributes gentle heat throughout the area and can keep the dovecote warm for a few hours.
Of course, the hot water cools down eventually, and you will have to replace the bottles at some point. This is not a permanent solution though, but it’s easy to do and inexpensive. It also does a quick and fast job of keeping the birds warm. If you need to refill many bottles, be sure that you have a good and reliable electric water heater around for the task. A whistling kettle will take too long to boil and fill numerous bottles for the dovecote.
A lot of people have asked what is the best water heater, but the answer really varies depending on what you need and what you will use it for. Single people living inside small apartments will just need a small, compact and portable heater, whereas household with multiple residents need a larger one for daily use. They can use it from anything to heating litres of water for drinking or bringing it with them when they go out on trips. In the case of bird owners, a larger one would be best so you can heat up a lot of water and transfer them onto the bottles fast. This way, you can place the water bottles inside the dovecote at around the same time.
If these two methods fail, you might want to consider moving the dovecotes indoors to keep the birds from being exposed to the elements. The garage or the den might work as a temporary shelter and provide the birds with constant temperature. It will also keep them away from the rain. Just be sure that the birds are not anywhere near cats or dogs as these could agitate them. You also don’t want the birds to be able to fly out inside a room and make a royal mess out of everything.
Assessing temperatures and deciding on what to do to make the birds comfortable should be done before the weather actually changes. This is so you have enough time to buy the materials you need and make the necessary adjustments.
Also read: How to Clean Bird Droppings from your Bike