Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis)
The laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is a small pigeon that is a resident breeder in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Western Australia where it has established itself in the wild around Perth and Fremantle. 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. Other names include laughing turtle dove, palm dove and Senegal dove while in Asia the name of the little brown dove is often used.
It is a common and widespread species in scrub, dry farmland, and in areas of human habitation, often becoming very tame. Its range includes much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. It is also found in Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the UAE, and Turkey (these populations may be derived from human introductions). They are mostly sedentary but some populations may make movements. Birds ringed in Gujarat have been recovered 200 km north in Pakistan and exhausted birds have been recorded landing on ships in the Arabian Sea. The species (thought to belong to the nominate population) was introduced to Perth in 1889 and has become established around Western Australia. Birds that land on ships may be introduced to new regions.
The species is usually seen in pairs or small parties and only rarely in larger groups. Larger groups are formed especially when drinking at waterholes in arid regions. Small numbers assemble on trees near waterholes before flying to the water's edge where they are able to suck up water like other members of the pigeon family. Laughing doves eat the fallen seeds, mainly of grasses, other vegetable matter and small ground insects such as termites and beetles. They are fairly terrestrial, foraging on the ground in grasslands and cultivation. Their flight is quick and direct with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings characteristic of pigeons in general.