Thick-billed Green-pigeon: Tail movement

on 2nd September 2019
Thick-billed Green-pigeon (video grab).

“The vertical up-and-down movements of the tail of this bird amuse most people who come across it. Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) do it too. Experts describe this behaviour as tail flicking. Other forms of tail movements include tail flashing and pendulous movement. Tail movement is a behaviour that is observed in many bird species but surprisingly, is also one which has received little attention in ornithology.

“In ornithology, tail movements are often described during courtship display (Fitzpatrick 1998, 1999). However, most bird species that show tail movements do so throughout the year, not just in the breeding season.

“According to this article, possible reasons include sexual signal addressed toward a potential mate, a cue of an individual’s perceived danger or alertness, an encounter with a predator, an alarm signal and a signal of submission, among others.

“In the case of this male Thick-billed Green Pigeon (Treron curvirostra) (see video above, image top), what was the motivating factor/s which made it pump its tail in an almost consistent tempo? Was it a sexual signal as a female was seen perched a short distance away? But I understand that its breeding season is at the beginning of the year.

“Then could the presence of the many birders under the tree be the influence of its tail pumping behaviour? Did it perceive danger and look upon the many humans as predators? An interesting topic to pursue.”

Ang Siew Siew
2nd September 2019

Note: No music was added so as to present the bird in its natural habitat (with some background ‘noise’). Anyway, no playing of music allowed in the park.

Thick-billed Green Pigeon (male)
(Treron curvirostra)
厚嘴绿鸠 (雄)
28 Aug 2019

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.

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