Feeding Spotted Dove: 7. A strange feeding behaviour

On 17th July 2010, only one Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) was in the garden. This was the original bird that has got used to me, allowing me to get to about 30 cm from it. Duekto various reasons, I suspect that this bird is a female. Her mate is not as tame, as he will fly off when I approach. Only when both come together will he allow me to approach close. Both together will also approach me when I am sitting down under the porch reading.

This time around only the tame female Spotted Dove was around. She approached me from nowhere when I entered the garden and walked towards me when I was sitting down reading. In response, I scattered birdseeds for her a few times.

At around 6.03 pm she was still lingering around – the doves would by now have flown off to roost. I scattered some oat flakes and she happily fed on them. The bird then inflated her throat region, with the upper body becoming somewhat contorted and the head moving around. At the same time she made some swallowing actions as if she had difficulties swallowing. All the time the bill was tightly clamped and the throat feathers fluffed. After a few seconds, she returned to normal and started feeding again. This went on for another two more times, each time ending in normal feeding. The images above show her distended throat from the front and the back. Those below show the left and right sides.

This was a reaction to feeding the larger oat flakes as no such behaviour has been observed when it feeds on birdseeds.

According to Baptista, et al. (1997), doves indulge in gular fluttering, whereby the skin around the throat region flutters. This is a method of getting rid of excessive body heat. In gular fluttering the bill is opened wide. So the dove could not be indulging in gular fluttering as her bill was clamped tight.

YC Wee
August 2010

Baptista, L. F., P. W. Trail & H. M. Horblit, 1997. Family Columbidae (pigeons and doves). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 60-245.

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