Scientific name: Streptopelia senegalensis
The Laughing Dove is a smallish dove with no black collar, a pinkish tinge on the head, neck, breast, and white under the belly and tail. It's primaries are brown with a grayish blue on the upper side of the wings. The bill is blackish in color and the chest is speckled with a reddish coloring. It's feet and legs are purplish red.
The female has a duller mantle, which is a brownish or grayish color. The young do not have the characteristic markings on the chest and are also duller in color with brownish heads. Older birds have a strongly washed pink coloring on the head and breast. Pale colored as well as albino varieties have also been found, the latter occurring in both the Luangwa and Middle Zambezi of Zambia.
DISTRIBUTION and HABITAT:
Laughing Doves are found throughout Africa, Arabia, and Asia Minor to India and the extreme northwest of China. They are also found in Australia. These doves can be found in villages and urban areas: in gardens, on buildings, and along city streets. They are also found in East Africa's gallery forests and in the savannas.
Laughing Doves spend much of their time on the ground walking with their heads bent downwards in a crouched attitude while taking short shuffling steps. Their flight is characterized by flying into the air in a steep motion and gliding or sailing down again with wings and tail spread wide. These doves sit for long periods of time on rooftops, exposed branches or telephone wires.
When they are not breeding, these doves may form flocks. The Laughing Dove has little fear of man and will begin making a nest within a few hours after it is caught and caged. The unmistakable characteristic of this bird is it's call, which is a reflection of it's name. It sounds much like a gentle, bubbly laugh, 'Cooroocoo-coo-coocoo'.
The Laughing Dove is mainly a ground-feeder. Their diet consists chiefly of small seeds and grains. They occasionally feed on insects and especially favor termites. They rely heavily on water and therefore will stay close to areas that have an available water source.
BREEDING and NESTING:
Though they lay eggs throughout the year, Laughing Doves main breeding season is from September to October or November, and from March to April. Preceding copulation, the female inserts her bill into the male's and they both make a slight movement of their heads. Immediately following copulation the male stands with it's head up and neck feathers puffed out, while the female parades around with it's rump and neck feather's erected.
The nest is made of small twigs and can be found on rafters or thatch of a hut, on shelves, windowsills, balconies, or in flower pots, and in low trees or bushes. Two white eggs constitutes a normal clutch with an incubation period lasting from 12 1/2 to 14 days. Both the male and the female share the incubation and both feed the young, which are called "squabs". The young are fed food that is partially digested and mixed with a secretion from the walls of the crop; this is called "pigeon's milk". Because they are fed this special diet by the parents, it is difficult to raise them on other foods.
The young tend to leave the nest before they are able to fly and are picked up by well meaning people who think they fell from the nest. If the young are left alone or placed in a position high enough that they are easily visible to the parents, they will continue to be cared for.
Wild Population: At present the Laughing Dove is not endangered and flourishes in a wide variety of places. Their ability to adapt to a range of habitats has found these doves in various countries including Australia and China as well as the USSR and many others. The main threat to these doves is nest predation by hooded crows, jays, rats, and snakes.