🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Laughing Dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)

This Laughing Dove became a pet of mine after I found her as a baby, where the Fiscal Shrike had dropped her on the lawn, obviously intent on spiking her in his pantry for a later-in-the-day-snack. I have often watched, helplessly, as the Fiscal Shrike raids nests and carries off the newly hatched babies. 

  The raised wing is saying "keep away!"

 I named her Flutterby' and she lived with us in the house, only venturing out the door when she saw me going out, happily sitting on my shoulder as I tended to things in the garden. As she slowly gained more confidence, she spent more and more time outside, only coming in to roost at dusk, but eventually she started staying out at night, harassing me for seeds first thing in the morning as I left the house.

 Flutterby contentedly roosting on a rock and watching me digging in my new garden.

We sold that smallholding we were living on and I managed to catch her before we moved, bringing her up to our new property, where I kept her inside for a couple of days before allowing her to go outside. She now happily lives in my new garden and I've watched her and her new husband rear many babies. 

Flutterby preening herself before settling down to roost. 

The Laughing Doves are regular visitors to my feed tables, but gentle creatures that they are, they always seem to be the last allowed to feed, with the Weavers and Red Bishops leading the pack, making sure nobody gets close until they've had their fill. 

I have now resorted to spreading the feeding tables all over the garden, as well as putting some seeds on the ground, out of the way where it's easy for the Laughing Doves to also get something. 

The infamous but lovable Fiscal Shrike having some minced meat at one of my feeding tables. 

If you look closely, you can see a mouse that the Fiscal Shrike spiked on a branch in my peach tree. She is a fearsome little predator that will pluck the eye out a fully grown bird if they're not aware! Besides insects, they will hunt fledglings, birds, lizards, frogs and mice.

Another mouse spiked on one of the thorns of the White Karee

(See another one of the Fiscal Shrike's larders here.)

The Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is a small pigeon that is a resident breeder in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East east to the Indian Subcontinent. This small long-tailed dove is found in dry scrub and semi-desert habitats where pairs can often be seen feeding on the ground. A rufous and black chequered necklace gives it a distinctive pattern and is also easily distinguished from other doves by its call. 

It is a common and widespread species in scrub, dry farmland and habitation over a good deal of its range, often becoming very tame, often to its own detriment as it always waits to the last minute before taking flight, making it easy prey for predators. The laughing dove feeds primarily on seeds, but it also eats other vegetable matter, such as fruit, as well as small insects, particularly termites. It typically takes fallen seeds and fruit from the ground, although occasionally it may pluck and eat fruit while perched. They actually often make use of my feeding tables provided access is fairly easy.

 Although the laughing dove typically occurs individually or in pairs, it may gather in flocks at watering points, roosting spots, or where there is an abundance of food. At such feeding sites, hooting and moaning can be heard as the laughing doves bicker over the food. Sometimes I think they get very little to eat while they are so busy worrying about who else wants to eat! 

A fledgling that hatched this spring in my garden. Where there's one, there's usually another one and it wasn't long before I found him in the Black Karee next to the peach tree

These doves are monogamous and only have one partner and will tend to return to the same nesting site year after year. It may nest at any time during the year, but peaks in nesting are often recorded in spring, or during the rainy season. Each nest is typically situated on its own, in a fruit tree, but occasionally a few breeding pairs may nest close together. The male laughing dove collects materials for the nest and the female then builds the nest with meticulous care and despite its flimsy appearance it can last a couple of seasons. The female lays two eggs and both the male and female take turns to incubate the eggs for up to two weeks.



  1. I so enjoyed this beautiful true story!! Thanks for sharing Maree.

    1. Aaaah, thank you very much Liz, my pleasure, and I often wonder if she's still around here...

  2. Thank you, Maree, for this wonderful and fascinating post. I am so happy to read that there are good and kind animal-lovers like you!!!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Kathryn!

  3. It can be a problem sometimes making sure all the garden visitors can get their fair share of the food.

    1. That's for sure John! It's a constant juggling act as to where to put what!

  4. Hi ive got a wild one come into my flat for the last two weeks....today inside the flat i called him...held out my hand and he flew to my hand and sat there several minutes....is this normal?



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