I have been observing the activities around the nest of a pair of Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) for the last two week (above left). Every evening at around 5pm, the bird in the nest flew out and its mate flew in to take over the incubation duty. The night shift bird would then sit on the eggs right up to the next morning without ever leaving the nest. At around daybreak there should be another shift change. But for the last two weeks I was not able to witness the morning shift change. I was wondering whether the birds were on 24 hours incubation duty.
Then this morning I had a pleasant surprise.
I wasn’t particularly keeping watch as in the past. At around 8 am when I was near the nest, the bird inside suddenly flew off. Within a few seconds its mate flew in. But instead of making itself comfortable in the nest, it picked up a piece of egg shell in its beak and immediately flew off (above right). Three minutes later it flew in minus the shell and settled in the nest.
This is the day I have been waiting for – the hatching of one of the two eggs. The bird kept bending its neck downwards, making feeding movements. As with pigeons and doves, the Zebra Doves feed their chicks with crop milk.
I am still keeping watch to see when the other egg would hatch.
31st July 2005