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Pink-necked
Green Pigeon

Treron vernans

Punai Kerichau/Gading (Malay)

Pink-necked Green Pigeons eat mainly fruits. Their colourful attire allows them to blend perfectly in the foliage of fruiting trees (can you spot the pigeon in the photo on the left?)

Figs are their favourite, but they also eat palm fruit and berries, and nibble on buds. In Sungei Buloh, their favourite food include the fruit of the Macaranga, Cherry Tree (Muntingia calabura), small banyan figs (Ficus benjamina), and Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum).

Like other Green Pigeons, they are arboreal and seldom come the ground except to drink, although they may snack on berries of low bushes.

Pink-necked Green Pigeons are the only Green Pigeons found commonly outside the primary forest. They prefer habitats with trees that provide fruits as well as a safe perch including mangroves, scrub, secondary forest, forest edge.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Medium (25cm), chubby; bill pale green; feet red. See below for difference from other Green Pigeons.

Male: Head and throat grey; upper breast and neck pinkish-purple; lower breast orange.

Female: Uniform green plumage; yellow stripe in wing; belly has yellow tinge; thighs mixed dark green and yellow; under tail coverts pale cinnamon.

Call: Described as rapidly repeated bubbling whistles, chuckles, gurgles in a variety of songs.

Male

Female
In flight: Fast, direct flight. When disturbed, flies off with clapping wing beats.

Similar birds:
Other Green Pigeons. The Pink-necked has a grey tail with broad black subterminal band and narrow white tip.

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

World distribution: Southeast Asia from Southern Myanmar, to the Malay peninsula, to Sulawesi, the Philippines and Borneo.

Classification: Family Columbidae, subfamily Treroninae (Fruit Pigeons). World 310 species, Singapore 11 species.

Pink-necked Green Pigeons forage most actively in the early morning. Although they may feed in flocks of up to 30 in a fruiting tree, males especially may defend small patches from others in the flock. Pink-necked Green Pigeons tend to roost together and a site may attract hundreds of birds from a wide area and become a traditional roost. Favoured roosting sites are tall trees in swamps and mangroves. But they nest alone and not in large colonies.

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 (late March to late July): The male Pink-necked is very handsome and colourful. The duller female is easily confused with those of other Green Pigeons and is best identified by her male consort who is usually nearby.

Like other pigeons, the nest is a flimsy platform of twigs. About 15-20 cm in diameter, and so thin that sometimes the contents can be seen from below! The male collects the nesting material and passes these on to the female to assemble. Pairs nest alone, preferring spots near open spaces, in bushes as low as 2m off the ground and up to 10m high in trees and palms.
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.
1-2 white eggs are laid. Both parents take turns incubating them and both raise the young. Fledglings may remain near the nest for up to 1 week.

Migration? Although Pink-necked Green Pigeons may travel long distances to forage for food, they are quite sedentary and don't migrate.

Status and threats: The Pink-necked Green Pigeons used to be far more common in the past; bags of them where regularly shot during colonial times in Singapore. They are still hunted in other parts of Asia, usually shot as they gathered in large flocks in the evening at their communal roosts. They are a particular favourite probably because, according to Tweedie, they are "just big enough to be worth cooking". Besides this hunting pressure, they are probably also affected by the disappearance of their food trees. Nevertheless, Pink-neck Pigeons are still among the more commonly seen of Green Pigeons in Singapore as they have adapted to non-forest habitats such as mangroves, cultivated land in rural as well as urban areas.


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. 136: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • David R Wells, "The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passarines)", Academic Press, 1999 (p. 346-347: 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. 48: 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. 45: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Clive Briffett, "A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science Centre,1992 (p. 65: habit, habitat).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 87: habits, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Ramakrishnan N K, "Journal of a Nature Warden: Pink-necked Green Pigeon", Wetlands Vol 7 No 3 Dec 2000.
  • 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. 56: 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. 47-54: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits as well as how to shoot them and how nice they tasted in pies (!), and 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