LAUGHING DOVE

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Spilopelia senegalensis
SIZE: 22 – 24 cm

WEIGHT: 74 – 120 g

The Laughing Dove grows to about 22 to 24 cm in length and weighs between 74 and 120 grams. It is a long-tailed slim bird. Its back, wings and tail are reddish-brown with blue-grey in the wings. In flight, the underwings are rich chestnut. The head and underparts are pinkish, shading to whitish on the lower abdomen. The legs are red. Diagnostic is the black-speckled necklace across the breast. Sexes are similar although the female and juveniles are slightly duller in colour.

Juveniles lack the chest markings.

Habitat. The Laughing Dove is a common and widespread species in scrub, dry farmland and habitation over a good deal of its range, often becoming very tame. It avoids true desert areas. It has adapted well to cities and gardens.

Diet. The Laughing Dove eats grass, seeds, grains, other vegetation and small insects. It is fairly terrestrial, foraging on the ground in grasslands and cultivation.

Call. The Laughing Dove’s chuckling call is a low oo-took-took-oo-roo, with the emphasis on the took-took. Occasionally a nasal scream at one-second intervals is produced in flight or when landing.

Breeding. The Laughing Dove normally places its nest in a low tree, about 3 m from the ground but sometimes as high as 6 m. This species builds a stick nest and lays two white eggs. Breeding happens mainly during the October – November and March – April periods but they do breed throughout the year. Nests are often reused. Male and female participate in the incubation process. The incubation period is 12 to 17 days. The young are ready to fly within 11 days and leave the nest a week later.