The Ringneck Dove, Ring Dove, or Barbary Dove, Streptopelia risoria, is a small domestic dove. Some sources confidently assert that it is a domestic form of the Eurasian Collared Dove, S. decaocto, but the majority of evidence points to it being a domesticated form of the African Collared Dove, S. roseogrisea. It appears that it can hybridise freely with either species, and its status as a species must therefore be regarded as doubtful. However because of the wide use of both the common and systematic names, it is best to consider it separately from either of the putative parent species.
Ringneck Doves have been domesticated for 2000 to 3000 years. They are easily kept, and long lived, in captivity, living for up to 12 years, and are noted for their gentle nature. In recent years they have been used extensively in biological research, particularly into the hormonal bases of reproductive behaviour, because their sequences of courtship, mating and parental behaviour have been accurately described and are highly consistent in form. Dove fanciers have bred them in a great variety of colours; the number of colours available has increased dramatically in the latter half of the twentieth century, and it is thought that this has been achieved by interbreeding with S. roseogrisea.
The coo of the ring dove is created by muscles that vibrate air sent up from the dove’s lungs. These muscles belong to the fastest known class of vertebrate muscles, contracting as much as ten times faster than muscles vertebrates use for running. This class of muscles is usually found in high speed tissue such as a rattlesnake’s tail. Ring doves are the first bird species to have been found to have this class of muscle.