Since May 2010 when I started scattering birdseeds in my garden that attracted a Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), only a single bird visited in the mornings and evenings. I have always wondered whether this was the same bird or was there another. As both sexes look the same but can we recognise one individual from another?
At every opportunity I photographed the bird in an effort to look for distinguishing features. Of the features on the head, the dark black line that extends from the gape to the eye appears to vary on the same individual, depending on the position of the head.
It was only in late June that I had the opportunity to compare features of two individuals when the regular dove brought its mate to feed in the garden (above left). And the mate has a distinguishing mark that is different from the regular bird. The black line on both sides of the face has a gap near the bird’s gape (left: bird below has a gap in the black line).
An added bonus was that on one of the days when the pair of doves visited the garden, they brought a
juvenile *Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata) with them (above right). That was the only day the juvenile Peaceful Dove was seen. Maybe it did come on other days but was not spotted by me.
But which is male and which is female has still to be resolved. It may be possible that the regular visitor (the one with the continuous black line) is the female and the recent arrival the male. If the doves were brooding their chicks earlier, the male would be on duty during the day and only the female would be free to forage. Thus the regular visitor would naturally be the female. Once the chicks fledged, the pair of adults would be free to visit regularly together with the juveniles. But why only the female came most of the time, and the juvenile seen only once? Did the male accompany the juvenile elsewhere?
*Thanks to Phil who alerted me on the error in ID – see comments.