Spotted Turtle Dove 1Description

The spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis) is a small and somewhat long-tailed pigeon which is a common resident breeding bird across its native range on the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The species has been introduced into many parts of the world and feral populations have become established. This species was formerly included in the genus Streptopeliawith other turtle-doves, but studies suggest that they differ from typical members of that genus. This dove is long tailed buff brown with a white-spotted black collar patch on the back and sides of the neck. The tail tips are white and the wing coverts have light buff spots. There are considerable plumage variations across populations within its wide range. The species is found in light forests and gardens as well as in urban areas. They fly from the ground with an explosive flutter and will sometimes glide down to a perch. It is sometimes also called the mountain dove, pearl-necked dove or lace-necked dove.

The ground colour of this long and slim dove is rosy buff below shading grey on the head and belly. There is a half collar on the back and sides of the neck made of black feathers that bifurcate and have white spots at the two tips. The back has brown feathers with rufous spots in the Indian and subspecies. The lesser median coverts are grey brown. The Indian populations have these coverts with rosy spots at the tip divided by a widening dark grey streak along the shaft. The primary coverts are dark brown. The wing feathers are dark brow with grey edges. The centre of the abdomen and vent are white. The outer tail feathers are tipped in white and become visible when the bird takes off. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller than adults and do not acquire the neck spots until they are mature. The length ranges from 28 to 32 centimetres (11.2 to 12.8 inches).[2][3][4]

Distribution and habitat

The spotted dove in its native range in Asia is found across a range of habitats including woodland, scrub, farmland and habitation. In India it tends to be found in the moister regions, with the laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) being commoner in the drier areas. These doves are mostly found on the ground where they forage for seeds and grain or on low vegetation.[12]

The species has become established in many areas outside its native range. These areas include Hawaii, southern California,[13] Mauritius, Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, they were introduced in Melbourne in the 1860s and has since spread, often replacing native doves. They are now found in streets, parks, gardens, agricultural areas and tropicalscrubs in diverse locations across Australia. The original populations appear to be chinensis and tigrina in varying proportions.[14]

Behaviour and ecology

Spotted Turtle Dove 2Spotted doves move around in pairs or small groups[15] as they forage on the ground for grass seeds, grains, fallen fruits and seeds of other plants.[16] They may however take insects occasionally and have been recorded feeding on winged termites.[17]The flight is quick with regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings. A display flight involves taking off at a steep angle with a loud clapping of the wing and then slowly gliding down with the tail spread out.[12] The vocalizations of the spotted dove include cooing softly with a Krookruk-krukroo… kroo kroo kroo with the number of terminal kroos varying in the Indian population and absent in tigrina, chinensis and other populations to the east.[12]The breeding season is spread out in warm regions but tends to be in summer in the temperate ranges.[12] In Hawaii, they breed all year round, as do all three other introduced species of doves. Males coo, bow and make aerial displays in courtship.[18] In southern Australia, they breed mostly from September to January, and in the north in autumn.[19] They nest mainly in low vegetation, building a flimsy cup of twigs in which two whitish eggs are laid. Nests are sometimes placed on the ground or on buildings and other structures.[20][21] Both parents take part in building the nest, incubating and feeding the young. The eggs hatch after about 13 days and fledge after a fortnight.[12] More than one brood may be raised.[22]

The species has been extending its range in many parts of the world. Populations may sometimes rise and fall rapidly, within a span of about five years.[23] In the Philippines, the species may be outcompeting Streptopelia bitorquata.[24][25]Their habit of flushing into the air when disturbed makes them a hazard on airfields, often colliding with aircraft and sometimes causing damage.[26][27]