Pink-necked Green Pigeons 3 – Sharing of duties

on 7th December 2005

In Pink-necked Green Pigeons both parent birds help in egg incubation and care of the nestlings. The male takes on the day shift, arriving at the nest at around 8 am. He stays in the nest all day, never leaving unless disturbed. The female arrives at around 5 pm and stays in the nest the entire night. Arrivals and departures may be delayed by up to 1.5 hours, especially when the birds detect people around. Like nosy photographers or birdwatchers hidden behind a screen some distance away.

Shift change is the most exciting moment. Usually the bird in the nest becomes slightly excited and moves around a bit when its partner is nearby. Sometimes there is soft gurgling vocalisation from either party. Then suddenly a bird flies in with a distinct flapping of wings to join the other in the nest. The latter moves slightly away to allow the former to sit in the nest before flying off. At times when people are around, the bird may fly in to land on a nearby branch, to move slowly towards the nest as the other bird flies off. Or the bird in the nest may suddenly fly off, the other flying in a few seconds later.

During egg incubation the bird sits quietly in the nest all the time. After the eggs are hatched the parent birds similarly sit quietly but the nestlings are always moving about. Most times the latter would pester the parent in the nest for food. This they do by pecking the parent around the neck area. The parent responds by opening its beak to allow the nestling to poke its beak in to receive the liquid crop milk. During this transfer of food, both necks may twist around somewhat until the transfer is complete. Food transfer occurs at intervals and may again be seen just before the bird leaves the nest. If not, the arriving bird will have to feed the nestlings.

Such a method of feeding allows for the parent birds to remain in the nest all the time, thus providing 24 hours protection to the nestlings. This is sharply contrasted to those birds that need to seek out fruits and insects to feed the nestlings. The nestlings of the Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) are left alone for varying periods of time when the parents are away foraging.

Image shows the male just after arriving and the female just before departing, together with one nestling.

YC Wee
7th December 2005

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

5 Responses

  1. What makes u think photographers are ‘nosy’ huh? Just because of a few ‘bad eggs’ and we get a bad reputation? Photographing birds/bird behaviour on film/digital is an even bigger challenge than just pure birdwatching alone. The ability to document birds and their behaviour is akin to birdwatching, you need lots of patience and understanding of the bird as well. As well as long hours in the field. But the results are well worth it.

    Please do not label us as ‘nosy’, many bird photographers I know are genuinely interested in nature and nature conservation, and in photographing birds hope to understand more about them and their behaviour.

    Thanks for the informative post (except for the ‘nosy photographers’ bit)

  2. The ‘photographers and birdwatchers’ in the posting refer to myself behind the screen. After all, I was the only nosy one spying on the birds, not anybody else. Sure, photographers document bird behaviour better than the average birdwatcher. That is exactly the reason this group was formed! Also, I am more a sometime photographer than a sometime birdwatcher. Thanks for taking the time to view the posting.

  3. What a wonderful script and picture of the lovely pink-necked pigeons.

    A few months back I was surprised to see a Common tailor bird’s nest with two ready-to-fly nestlings on a potted plant just next to my car. How on earth I, after all these times, missed it (the nest).

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