I got this rescue dove that probably had fallen from its nest. I took him home and fed it for 3 months. In these 3 months the dove didn't get domesticated, always fearing me when i go near it to replenish food.

One day I kept the window open to see if it would leave and it did leave overnight.

I am bit heart broken as well as confused as I thought these birds are territorial and they have good memory to know where their house is. Why did he never came back or got domesticated? I did offer bird feed and rice daily along with water. In general any animal finds safety in a place where it gets shelter and food and doesn't usually leave that place unless the safety gets compromised.

Would it know where my house is once it leaves and its choosing not to come back?

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    You should be happy your fledgling bird has left the proverbial nest and wish it a good life. It is grateful to you and remembers your place as a safe place, these creatures have good memories, but it has a life to lead and instincts to follow. Your place doesn't become its territory the same way a hospital or hotel doesn't become yours, it has to go back to its area. But out of nostalgia I would leave that window open if possible, just in case it needed to come back to a safe haven.
    – ahron
    Sep 29, 2020 at 12:37
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    @Yogesch yes, I have not closed the window since that day and even started putting the bird feed, boiled rice and water on the window sill, hoping it would see the food and eat.
    – gfdsal
    Sep 29, 2020 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


There is a very essential difference between "domesticated" and "tame".

An animal that is "domesticated" was intentionally bred by humans over many generations to ensure a safe food supply that doesn't rely on hunting or to exploit other characteristics (like rodent control by cats). This process takes many generations bred in captivity.

An animal is "tame" when it doesn't shy away from human contact. Both domesticated and wild animals can be tame or feral or something in between. Most animals aren't born tame, they need to get used to human contact. This works best if the animal has contact to humans from birth or from a very young age, a process called "socialization". Some species can become tame later in their life, but I think the majority of animals cannot become tame after their period of socialization ended.

This guide to pigeons includes:

Handle your pigeon. Talk to him and touch him gently and allow him to get used to you and your voice. Giving him attention will make him more likely to be a lifelong buddy. Ignoring him in a cage will only isolate him. How often how well he was handled while he was at the breeders will also influence how easily adaptive he might be. A well socialized pigeon has been handled by numerous people during his squab stages. Otherwise you might have to take a very gentle and patient approach.

So the reasons why the dove you cared for didn't become tamed in 3 months are probably:

  • It wasn't socialized with humans at a young age
  • You didn't spend much time with it other than offering food
  • It may have had negative experiences with humans in the path that scared or hurt it. Although you are a different person, this dove had no reason to trust you.

Please don't be heartbroken. This was a wild bird that would probably never become tame the way you'd want.

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    Thanks for helping me out. I have been thinking about it for a while now. Do we expect doves, pigeons to remember the house if they stay there for a long time like 3 months? Secondly, do such animals linger around same neighborhood once gone or they tend to move across vast places? The dove was/is quite small when I rescued him 3 months back, so i am not sure why it never socialized. I even hand fed him boiled rise as he never ate on its own.
    – gfdsal
    Sep 26, 2020 at 15:54
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    Pigeons can fly very long distances and they can remember places very well. He might seek you out if he doesn't find food, because he remembers you feeding him. If you handfed him, he was at least somewhat tame. A completely feral pigeon would not take food from your hand.
    – Elmy
    Sep 26, 2020 at 16:01

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