Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ID Feature: Dovetailing

Introducing a uniquely Western Australian birding challenge: the slightly obscure, but not entirely frivolous sport of differentiating Spotted and Laughing Doves solely by their tails!

While these species are usually easily separated by differences in size, colour, and neck markings, it is not uncommon to flush a dove and see only its rear end before it disappears. Furthermore, immature Spotted Doves are smaller, paler, and lack the black neck patch, so are less easily differentiated from Laughing on brief views.

A local Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) with plumage characteristics of the Indo-Malayan subspecies tigrina, including dark streaking on the wing feathers, light grey lesser coverts on the carpus, and off-white undertail coverts. Most Perth birds lack the latter two features. A CSIRO study [1] found that most Perth birds have dark streaking but browner wing and undertail coverts and are thus an ambiguous mixture of introduced subspecies tigrina and chinensis

Compared to the generally browner Spotted Dove, Laughing Doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) show rich coppery-pinks tones on the body, and more blueish slate-grey wings and rump