White-throated dove at Louisville Zoo

First White-Throated Ground Dove Hatched at Louisville Zoo

Ranking high on the list of achievements in species conservation at the Louisville Zoo is the first white-throated ground dove to hatch in captivity. The first dove hatched on October 17, 2006 after an eighteen day incubation period. The second dove hatched on December 1, 2006. The first nest was located in a fig tree approximately thirty feet above the floor of the Forest Bird Trail Exhibit in the Islands Pavilion. Staff viewed the nest remotely to monitor the progress of the birds.

The Zoo’s Bird Department staff works under the direction of Curator Gary Michael. Michael considers the hatching of this species the crowning achievement of his career. He said that as an aviculturist (one who raises and cares for birds), there is “nothing greater than accomplishing the first breeding and successful birth of a species in captivity.”

As of 2014, a population of 67 captive doves resided in 15 zoos. There were nine doves at the Louisville Zoo — one of which hatched in this year. The babies, called squabs, were reared in an off-exhibit area. While not officially listed as endangered, the white-throated ground dove is considered a species of concern because it is rare and has a very small range. The Louisville Zoo leads the effort to conserve this species at the request of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Saipan, Micronesia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Pigeon and Dove Taxon Advisory Group.