Adult Zebra Dove feeding newly fledged chick

This morning I found a newly fledged Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) sitting quietly on the floor of my porch. It allowed me to approach to less than half a metre to photograph it (below). I was about to bring it some food when it flew to the nearby garden wall.

In the afternoon it was still there, hiding among the flowering branch of my Horse-shoe Vitex (Vitex negundo) that grows next to the wall. The adult arrived soon after and started feeding the juvenile. As with doves and pigeons, the adult fed the chick and newly fledged juveniles with crop milk. This involved the juvenile probing into the gape of the adult for the transfer of the regurgitated crop milk (see video below).

After feeding and spending time with the juvenile for about 20 minutes, the adult flew off, leaving the juvenile behind. The juvenile remained on the top of the garden wall until the adult returned about an hour later (below).

When the adult arrived a second time, the juvenile took a defensive posture by raising both its wings (below). This was exactly what it did earlier when a Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) flew to where it was resting (see video). It took some time before the adult was accepted by the juvenile who then began harassing it for food, again pecking the former’s beak area. But there was no feeding this time. The adult flew off within a short period.

Not feeding the juvenile was a strategy to get it to fly off together. There were also calls by both adults to encourage the juvenile to join them. But the latter remained where it was. There were calls at intervals but the juvenile did not respond. An adult was seen returning a third time but flew off within a few minutes without feeding the juvenile.

The calls continued but by 7.00 pm the juvenile was still on the top of the garden wall. It was going to spend the night in the open, This appears strange as normally the juvenile would fly off and spend the night on a branch of a tree between the two adults LINK.

Afraid that it would not survive the night as there were cats around, I placed it in a cage and brought it indoor. The next morning I placed the cage on the grass near where it was the night before, removes the cover to allow it to fly off (below). Below right shows a curious Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) walking towards the uncovered cage and the dove responded with wings raised. A few minutes later the juvenile dove flew over the garden wall into my neighbour’s garden. A adult was already on the top of the wall waiting to welcome it. Eventually both flew off.

I suspect the recently fledged juvenile was only able to fly short distances although the adults were coaxing it to join them by withholding food and encouraging calls all without success.

YC Wee
15th March 2018

Wee, Y. C. & L. K. Wang 2008. Breeding behaviour of the zebra dove, Geopelia striata (Linnaeus, 1766). Nature in Singapore 1: 75-80. PDF.

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