For the last three weeks or so (November-December 2014), a pair of juvenile Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) was foraging in my garden during the daylight hours. They were relatively tame, allowing me to approach to within a metre or so before moving away.
Typically of juveniles, the broad, black half-collar with white spots, prominent in adults, had yet to develop (above). Most of the time these juveniles were unaccompanied by any adults.
However, once in a while I would hear the loud fluttering of wings as if birds were fighting. On closer look it was the arrival of an adult as the juveniles crowded around it. And as suddenly as the adult arrived, it left just as sudden, followed by the juveniles.
The birds were sensitive to my presence, making photography difficult, thus the low quality of images. But they clearly show that the juveniles were actually being fed crop milk as they fought to stick their bills into the adult’s gape.
Generally, for the few days after fledgling, doves and pigeons can be seen together on branches of trees with the adult feeding the juveniles with crop milk. Obviously the adults need to continue this for the subsequent few days. But for a few weeks? Even when the juveniles were independently foraging? Maybe they need to be fed crop milk until they are able to source out food with high protein and fat contents.
Not sure what happen at night. Would the juveniles roost with the adults along a branch, huddling together?
Note: Spotted Dove, as with all doves and pigeons, feed their nestlings with crop milk LINK. Similarly, parrots also feed their chicks with crop milk LINK. Such ‘milk’ is rich in fats and proteins LINK.