What happened when a nestling fell out of its nest?
Margaret Heng, a member of the Singapore Gardening Society, read my article on the Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) in the society's newsletter the Grapevine (see also) and sent me the following e-mail on her encounter with a displaced Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) nestling some time ago. The account is so fascinating that I got her permission to share it with others:
“Your articles in the Grapevine are always so interesting and enlightening! Thank you for sharing your 'nosy' experience with the pigeons. It was great! It reminds me of my daughters (when they were very little) and I when we found a baby Spotted Dove in our garden some years ago.
“One of its legs was injured. We picked it up and treated the wound with gentian violet (it’s our usual treatment for wounds), then we placed the bird in a shallow tray with some towels at our side patio table. When I woke up the following morning we could hear the cooing of a pigeon coming from our roof. We rushed to check our baby bird from behind our glass sliding doors (with drawn curtains of course) and lo and behold the baby was responding much to our delight! The mother had found its babe!
“The next amazing thing was that she flew to the baby and with a noisy exchange of greetings the mother grabbed hold of the baby’s head with wide opened beaks and shook it up and down. My daughters were horrified! I had to tell them that’s how the mom feeds the baby.
“From then on our side patio table was our stage for 'bird show.' We peeped quietly behind the curtains, even tried snapping pictures! The mother bird soon taught the baby how to jump out of the tray, down to the floor, and how to peck at nothing on the floor and so on. It was so funny.
“Just before the week was up it was time to try flying! The first flight from the top of our retaining wall to the top of our neighbor’s porch was a disaster. Plop, down it went. But after that it was plain sailing and we had to bid them farewell.
“Sorry for this long-winded sharing. It’s just that we enjoyed that experience! Thank you once again for all your articles in the Grapevine.