Down memory lane: Nesting of Zebra Doves

For the last few weeks the call of the Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) filled the morning and evening quiet in between the noise of motor vehicles zooming along the narrow road of a housing estate. The doves were hiding among the Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) trees lining the road outside my house. Most of the calls were duetting, an indication that they were about to nest, if not already nesting.

The calls of these doves brought back memories of my first close encounter with a breeding pair about a dozen years ago along the same road.

I was new to birding then. Being able to document the nesting from egg hatching to fledging of the chicks, right up to the end of the fledging period that signifies the chick would be independent of the adults soon, was a big deal to me then.

Three chicks in the nest, 3rd August 2005
Three chicks in the nest, August 2005

Documenting bird behavior and publishing scientific papers then were mostly left to ornithologists. Local birdwatchers simply “watched” birds and organised “bird race” to show who could spot the most number of bird species within a 24-hour period.

Adult feeding chicks, 3rd August 2005
Adult feeding chicks, August 2005

Blogging was also a new phenomenon then. There were few locals blogging on nature. With all those nesting information collected, I started a blog on bird behaviour – LINK. As the nesting stage changed, I posted it on the blog. News got around among nature enthusiasts and soon I got a following. People were eager to know the progress of the nesting. Much later, with the encouragement and help of Jacqueline Lau, we moved the blog to the current platform.

Two weeks old chicks, 12th August 2005
Two weeks old chicks, August 2005

This early encounter with the Zebra Doves was in July 2005. A pair built their simple twig platform of a nest in one of these trees near my house. It was slightly above eye level. Passersby, and there were many, were oblivious to the presence of the nest as they walked past the tree. The camouflage was perfect.

22-days old fledglings with adult, August 2005
22-days old fledglings with adult, September 2005

This time around I would have a hard time trying to locate the nest, and I am sure there would be more than a few. After all, the trees are much taller now and bushier.

Those interested in the breeding behaviour of the Zebra Dove can obtain a PDF copy of the paper, co-authored with Wang Luan Keng HERE.

YC Wee
12th July 2017


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