To the liking of many, the turtledove is a fairly widespread species, but within the family there is a very curious one that has delighted poultry lovers. It’s about nothing more and nothing less than the laughing dove.
A laughing dove?
Although it is known all over the world as a reddish turtledove, the truth is that this species is better known as the Senegalese turtledove, being a species found in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
They often live in habitats where there are large scrub or semi-arid deserts, where they can find food in the soil. Others know it as the dove of the palm grove but in India it is called the little brown dove.
And what does it look like?
It is characterized by a long, thin tail. Its size is about 25 cm and weighs about 150 grams. There is no sexual dimorphism, so DNA testing is the only way to know the sex of the specimen.
Their feathers are grey-brown, with a pinkish hue on the underside. Its head and neck are dyed lilac, while its lower parts are pinkish to slightly darker in the lower abdomen. It has a reddish and grey checkered patch on both sides of the neck, consisting of divided feathers. The upper parts are brown, with a bluish-gray farmhouse that runs along the wing. The back is a uniform brown colour, with no shine.
A total of 8 subspecies have been recognized:
- Spilopelia senegalensis phoenicophila: Which resides in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
- Spilopelia senegalensis aegyptiaca: Lives in the Nile valley and is one of the oldest of the species.
- Spilopelia senegalensis senegalensis: The nominal species living in Senegal and Nigeria.
- Spilopelia senegalensis cambayensis: Which is widespread in India.
- Spilopelia senegalensis ermanni: Lives in Afghanistan and Turkestan.
- Spilopelia senegalensis sokotrae: It lives on the island of Socotra and is one of the youngest subspecies.
- Spilopelia senegalensis dakhlae: Lives in the Dakhla Oasis in Egypt and Libya.
- Spilopelia senegalensis thome: Which is found on the island of Sao Tome, where it is thought to have been introduced.
And how does it usually live?
Although it is a bird that can rarely live in large groups, the truth is that they are birds that live in pairs or in small groups, except when they have to go out drinking in arid areas in the eyes of water.
This bird, like the rest of its relatives, feeds on seeds and small insects, which it eats directly from the ground. It can also be seen in some urban centres in search of food, which is very rare.
Their nests are usually built in bushes or trees in arid areas, which are cared for by the female most of the time, although it has also been found that sometimes the male is responsible for incubating the eggs. The chicks are born at 14 – 19 days and do not leave the nest until they are three weeks old. During this time, they are cared for by both parents, one of whom is always with the offspring to ensure that they are safe.
Compared to other birds of its species, it is not as used as a breeding bird, much less as a pet bird, because it is used to warm environments and in colder areas does not usually last long.