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Spotted Dove
Streptopelia chinensis

Spotted-necked Dove, Malayan Spotted Dove,
Terkukur (Malay)

Spotted Doves are the most common dove seen in open areas. They are not shy of humans and when approached, often keep pecking on the ground and fly off only at the last moment. Their Malay name sounds very much like their call.

Spotted Doves eat grass seeds, grains and bits of vegetation. They forage on the ground, on open land (both wild grasslands and cultivated land). Rather terrestrial, they are nevertheless also often seen perching on wires or low trees and palms.

Unlike other doves, they forage alone, or in pairs. When several are attracted to a food rich site, they mingle peacefully. They roost on trees and palms.

Although they may be found at forest edges, they do not venture deep into the forest.

Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Medium (30cm), a black patch with white spots on the back of the neck;
upper parts brown, broadly streaked with black; head and breast pinkish grey to white on belly; bill black; feet red.

Call: Described as a low coo-croo-coo; soft te-croo-croo; three note coo-coo-croo with emphasis on last note.

In flight: Pale brown wing coverts contrast with dark flight feathers and whitish bend of wing. As it flies, it spreads its long tail displaying the white tips.

Similar birds: Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata): The Zebra is smaller; lacks the neck patch with white spots; and is more "zebra-stripped".

Status in Singapore:
Very common resident throughout the island and North and South offshore islands.

World distribution: India through Southeast Asia. Introduced to the US, northern Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand.

Classification: Family Columbidae. World 310 species, Singapore 11 species. The one found in Singapore is of the subspecies S. c. tigrina.
Pigeons and doves do not have well-developed oil glands, which in other birds are used to waterproof their feathers. Instead, they have special plumes scattered throughout their body which disintegrate to produce a powder which cleans and lubricates the feathers.
Breeding: Spotted Doves appear to breed year round. To advertise his nesting site, a male performs a flight display of a steep climb accompanied by loud wing claps followed by a downward swoop in a circular dive.

The Spotted Dove's platform nest is less flimsy than that of other doves, but still flimsy compared to other birds' nests. Made out of twigs, grasses and roots, these are 11-15cm in diameter and shallow, 2-3cm deep. Nests are made in low trees or tall bushes, usually near open ground.
Pigeon's Milk

The most fascinating feature of pigeons and doves is their ability to produce crop milk. During breeding season, special glands in the crops of both males and females enlarge and secrete a thick milky substance.

The chicks drink this milk by poking their bills into the parent's throat.

Thus, pigeons and doves can feed their young without having to incessantly hunt or forage for food. Instead of laying many eggs, they lay one or at most two eggs. Their abundance is proof that this feature gives them the advantage.
Nests are usually about 3m off the ground, but heights range from 1 to 14m. Both parents build the nest. 1-2 white eggs are laid. Both parents share incubation duties.

Migration: Spotted Doves don't migrate but they disperse readily to colonise new areas suitable for them such as newly cleared and agricultural land. In Singapore, they are found mainly in open places including gardens, parks, cultivated areas; mangroves, and found even in built-up urban places.

Status and threats: Spotted Doves adapt well to cultivated areas and quickly spread to such places. But they are affected by use of pesticides and herbicides. Popular in bird-singing contests, wild Spotted Doves are often heavily trapped for sale as cage birds. Nevertheless, they are still common and not considered at risk in Singapore.


REFERENCES
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Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 142: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • Morten Strange, "Tropical Birds of Malaysia and Singapore", Periplus Editions, 2000 (p. 24: habits, habitat, photo).
  • David R Wells, "The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passarines)", Academic Press, 1999 (p. 338-340: identification, distribution map, habits, habitat, migration, conservation).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 46: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
  • G W H Davison and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995 (p. 42: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Clive Briffett, "A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science Centre,1992 (p. 66: habit, habitat).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 88: habits, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Vanishing Birds of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1992 (p. 8: status in Singapore).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • M W F Tweedie, "Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula", Longman,1970 (p. 16: description, distribution, habits, habitat, drawing).
  • G C Madoc, "An Introduction to Malayan Birds", Malayan Nature Society, 1947 (p. 59-60: description, habits, habitat).
  • Sir John A S Bucknill and E N Chasen, " Birds of Singapore and South-East Asia", Tynron Press, 1927, edition 1990 (p. 59-60: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits, drawings).
  • Prof. Dr. Yong Hoi Sen (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Animals"; Pigeons and Doves by Siti Hawa bt Yatim, Editions Didier Millet, 1998 (p. 52-53: habits and habitats)
  • Dr. Harold G Cogger (et. al), "Encyclopedia of Animals"; Pigeons and Sandgrouse by Francis H J Crome, Weldon Owen, 1993 (p. 334-336: general habits and habitats).
 
By Ria Tan, 2001