Courtship feeding by regurgitation in Zebra Doves

on 5th June 2019

Mary Yeo was rushing home when she came across this pair of Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) along a path towards the car park at Satay by the Bay. She grabbed her photographic gear and fired a few shots before the doves flew off. The entire encounter lasted a few minutes.

Courtship feeding by regurgitation.

Those viewing Mary’s images will be wondering whether it was a feeding or a courtship episode.

Courtship feeding by regurgitation – enlarged.

Well, it turned out to be both feeding and courtship. Actually, it was a courtship feeding by regurgitation (above) followed by mating (below) – see HERE for more details on mating ending in the cloacal kiss. The images of courtship feeding above show the smaller female dove on the left, with her bill probing into the gape of the larger male to receive crop milk – as is usually seen in the adult feeding chicks and fledglings LINK. Conventional courtship feeding is more obvious where the male offers an insect or a fruit to the female LINK, not so in this case where crop milk is involved – see LINK.


Following mating, the pair of Zebra Doves had a brief bonding moment before flying off (below). Note that the bigger male (left) is distinguished from the smaller female by the wider central portion of the breast that is unbarred – the female having a distinctly narrower unbarred breast – see HERE. This can also be seen in all the images shown above.

Zebra Dove pair bonding immediately after mating.

Mary Yeo, YC Wee & Jeremiah Loei
1st July 2019

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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