Peaceful (Zebra) Dove: 2. Incubating to brooding

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

The first part of the series can be read HERE.

Note: See this excellent write up by Slim Sreedharan on Peaceful Doves in my region LINK.

“On the 14th Feb (Day 14) we found one egg shell at the base of the nest (below left). It was not present at 12 noon but when I came home for lunch at 12.45pm it was lying just below the nest, suggesting the chick had just hatched and shell removed. We did not find the second egg shell. So we can be fairly sure that one chick hatched on 14/02/2012 around lunch time (incubation period 14 days, see comment below).

“Slim Sreedharan states ‘It lays one or two white eggs, 22.1 by 16.5 mm in size (Robinson 1927). Incubation, by both parents, takes 13 to 18 days. The empty egg shells are taken by the parents and discarded some distance away to avoid betraying the location of their nest site.’

“This pair of doves did not try to hide one of the egg shells. The size is ~ 27 by 17 mm for the discarded shell. Picture of shell to help with sizing in Part 1.

“Some odd observations:

1. Parent Breaks from Nest
“Our continual observation, repeatedly (spot checks) throughout the day, continue to show that the breaks taken from the nest are very infrequent. Most days we can only spot one break at 9.00-9.45am. Often brief, but today extended to 45-50 minutes (possibly as it rained much of the morning and may have changed the routine). Today also spotted a second brief excursion from nest at 4.45pm for 15 minutes.

2. Parent Change Over
“We, as yet, have not observed a parent change over. This must happen. We know a second adult is constantly in our garden or nearby. As the nest is just about 0.6 meters from eye level and we can see the incubating bird eye-to-eye – we have noticed that the birds character is different at different times, suggesting a parent change over. One bird is quite ‘strong’ in looking back at us (stares), while the other gives us a mild look.

3. Parent Feeding of Chicks
“Have yet to hear the chicks being feed. The parent covers them when nesting and perhaps it is done ‘by the side’ and we miss it. No calls yet head from chicks. I have watched, and documented on camera, the feeding in older juveniles but yet to see it in these young juveniles.

“This morning had a quick look again from the roof when the parent left the nest. The chicks are different in size, with one larger (above). At least one is 5 days old today. Photography requires me leaning over the edge of the roof and, as I do not want to disturb them or parents, kept to bare minimum when parent leaves nest (chicks asleep).

4. Droppings
Another odd observation is the limited droppings from the nest. From 01-19/02/2012 we have noted dropping on the ground only three times (hard to miss as they occasionally hit one of the cars parked below). Had expected more.

“Slim Sreedharan states ‘It has been suggested that Zebra Dove nests tend to get filthy (Tsang 2007) because the parents do not remove faecal sacs as other species do. Some interesting questions arise here. Is this always the case, or do these reports relate to captive birds, or birds nesting in a city environment? Could this be behaviour imprinted in a now-feral population with a long history of having been bred in captivity? Do they behave likewise when nesting in a natural setting?”

“If you look at images of the nest (above) – you can see the dropping embedded in the nest.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS & Datin Dr Lim Swee-Im
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

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