Feeding Spotted Dove: 3. Comfort behaviour

It was always fascinating to watch the Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) seeking out the birdseeds scattered on the grassy patch of the garden. When the seeds were plentiful the bird would be busy pecking at them. However when birdseeds were sparse, it would walk round seeking them out.

It was during such periods of “scarcity” that the dove would have time to indulge in comfort behaviour. During a sunny period it would sit on a sunny patch, raise one of its wing up high to expose the feathers on the inner surface to the sun‘s rays for up to a minute before lowering it (above left).

In between foraging, the dove would stretch both wings to take up the typical “angel” pose (above right) or do a wing-leg stretch (below right). At the same time it would preen various parts of the body as well as scratch its head.

It was amusing to observe a Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) in the background similarly taking advantage of the sun (above right). It sat on the ground with bill agape and eyes wide open. It remained in this position for a few minutes before getting up. Was it desperately trying to lose heat in the hot sun? Later the myna also indulged in preening.

YC Wee
July 2010

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