Nesting saga of Peaceful Doves: Part 2 of 6

on 3rd December 2008

A walk through the driveway, passed the nesting site, I resisted looking at the source of a soft ‘coo’ coming from my right direction. It was late afternoon.

I made a bee-line for my top garden balcony which hangs about 30 feet from the Christmas tree. By looking through gaps of the mango fruit tree, it provided near eye level views of the nesting site.

A quick look into my binoculars confirmed a nesting parent dove with a partially hidden chick, half obscured by the foliage of the bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) (above).

It rained heavily that night. I thought of a bird monitoring strategy that would be least exhausting for me and of minimal detection by Stripy and Silva- the parental pair of Peaceful Doves (Geopelia striatus).

I positioned and left my Fieldscope ED82 in place with a standby camera on the 1st. floor balcony. A pair of 8×33 binoculars remained at hand. Downstairs, I was able to observe movements of the parental activities with my spare, star gazing ETX 90 Fieldscope with a back up Coolpix P3 digital camera and my travelling 10×42 binoculars.

Within the confines of my home, I observed in comfort from my living room and balcony. I gazed into the driveway for reasonable views of the nesting site, drank tea, lazed on my couch, read a book to sleep and when felt like it, raised my binoculars to see what Silva was up to, no less than 20-30 feet away.

Well, this was one way of turning an arduous observation into a form of relaxation; Avian writer’s style- convenience and in home comfort!

The next day, Silva sat in most of the time. As it rained the whole day, only binoculars were used. By evening, she was regurgitating nutritious crop milk to chicks and flew off after rains abated, only to return 18 minutes later.

The first opportunity came to reveal contents of the nest was on 30th August 8.30am – breakfast time when Silva left for foraging duties.

From the balcony, with DGScope magnified 30 times, a pair of hyperventilating, black epidermal chicks with overall white straggly hairs huddled together. They appeared to be near 5 days old chicks (right).

By noon, more visuals of a chick showed eyes opened and displayed a tomial tooth (below left). Buccal feeding was observed at 12.30pm. Silva had her gape wide opened to receive two hungry chicks, probing deep into her throat (below right).

A friendly Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) flew in to inspect and announced the newly arrivals but that did not bother Silva at all. They appeared to be allies.

However, when my helper approached the driveway that afternoon in Liverpool’s football colours- bright red, Silva freaked out and darted off!

31st August was uneventful apart from observing Silva spending more time away foraging. Duration increases from 1 hour to 2 hours, making 4 trips during the day, until the predictable afternoon monsoon rains sent skies to darken and hastened the parental bird’s return.

The female parent took the pellets of rain in strides, keeping still and shielding her chicks under her crouch. Rain drops rolled over her waterproof feathers. Some stood to challenge the law of gravity (above left). The chicks fed on diminishing food reserves in spite of the unabated rain which continued through out the night. Silva stayed at home –took no dinner (above right).

Into the 8th day post hatching, two hungry chicks were seen pecking at Silva to be fed. She made use of kind, morning weather to gather more food reserves. I took that opportunity to check on the viability of her chicks through my scope.

There was a lot more body coverage of light down feathers in between the white, stringy hairs to conceal the skin blackness of chick. Primary feathers have appeared and at the first opportunity of sunlight after the rain, one of the chicks spread its wings to bathe in the light rays, exposing clear anatomical views of wing feather formation (above and below).

By the 9th day, transformation of the chicks was remarkable. The chicks were preening and flapping their wings. More downy hair observed and brown outer coverts growing through (below).

Feeding times clocked 8am, 930am, 1130am, 2pm and 4.30pm.

Silva was seen picking up chick poo in nest and ingesting them.

No foliage of any kind or tree branches removed throughout the observation period for full blown clear views. I preferred them left naturally and as protection and undercover against foul weather and chick predation.

Discerning viewers employing visualisation would appreciate to agree. Besides, I like to enjoy this observation, seeing it to be aesthetically and creatively challenged, hence viewing birds and bird-digiscopy/photography to be appreciated as an art for the discerning eye.

Share the growing joys of some full framed, close- up images of Lucky Dick and Little Jo coming up ……Part 3.


Photographed images by Digiscopy method.
Optics used: Fieldscope ED82 +30x + Coolpix P4 digital camera.

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.

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