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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pink-necked green pigeons come a calling

Mary Margaret
A soft bubbling whistle filtered from the garden through the open window. I smiled. The cat twitched its tail. A pair of pink-necked green pigeons (Trevon vernans) had arrived.
The pair, safely perched and hidden among the high branches of a fig tree, were beyond the reaches of even the most cat-like stealth approach.
Ever wary, the pigeons would rise quickly to take flight if startled or in danger.
Pink-necked green pigeons are members of Columbideae (Pigeon family) and of the approximate 300 members, 26 inhabit the forests and gardens of Malaysia; all of which are protected under the Wildlife Ordinance.
More specifically, pink- necked green pigeons are members of the subfamily Treroninae and the only one of 12 green pigeons found outside of primary forest.
Punai Kerichai or Gading, as they are known in Malay, take up residence in forest edges, scrub and secondary
forests, mangroves and are seen in gardens that have food and shelter.
These birds roost in flocks of up to 30 in tall trees in swamps and mangroves, but I have only had the privilege of observing pairs feeding on the figs and the red fruits of Jambu Kera (Glochidion littorale) and Simpoh Air (Dillena suffruticosa), the purple berries of the Straits Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) and the red fruits of the Fish Tail Palm (Caryota sp).
The relatively tall but very bushy mango tree is also a favourite of pigeons for perching and grooming. This greenish yellow plump pigeon is almost invisible when perched among the leaves and its grey tail with a black band distinguishes it from other green pigeons.
However, it is easiest to identify the pink-necked green pigeon by the colourful pink throat of the male.
The male collects twigs
and the female places them to build a rickety platform- like nest which has, at times, holes, leaving the one or two white eggs visible from below.
The fledglings are fed pigeon milk, a fluid produced by in specialised gland in both genders, making it unnecessary to collect fruit to feed the young. This tactic is probably one of the reasons for the success of pigeons.
The pink-necked green pigeon is a beautiful reminder of the wild. What brings birds, including pink-necked green pigeons, into our gardens and cities is
shelter and food. Thus, we need to plant
trees and shrubs that meet these requirements and preferably native species, since the birds will be adapted to consuming the fruit.
The presence of garden birds adds music and beauty to our lives and entices nature into man-made environments. The greenness of the trees and plants creates peace and fresh air.
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and plant a tree!
For more information on the pink-necked green pigeon go to www.naturia.per.sg.

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