Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)

After the Spotted Dove or Tekukur this bird is perhaps the most common “ground” pigeon on Borneo. And with its emerald green irridescent feathers on its back and wings it is the handsomest too. It is featured on the current RM1 Malaysian postage stamp where it is labelled as "Green-winged Pigeon" a named prefered by many birders, though to me "Emerald Dove" sounds more elegant and befitting this gem of a bird.

Originally a bird of the rainforest and secondary jungle it is now also commonly found in plantations and farms, singly or in pairs on the ground busily looking for food which consist of small seeds, fallen fruits and reportedly, insects including ants and flies. Sometimes it is seen flying low at amazing speed expertly weaving in between trees like a green flying ball. However accidents do occur!

This bird pictured in my hand hit a wall and crashed to the ground dazed, but lucky for it, it soon recovered and could continue its flight but many years ago I had seen one killed outright when it crashed into a chicken wire fence!

Locals sometimes imprison these beautiful birds as pets feeding them rice and chicken feed.

The Malay name for this bird is punai tanah, in Kadazan/Dusun it is limbuken while the Hakkas call it ti kap 地鸽 (simply meaning ground pigeon).

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