(1852) Chalcophaps indica indica.
THE INDIAN EMERALD DOVE.
Columba indica Linn., Syst. Nat 10th ed., i, p. 164 (1758) (East Indies, restricted to Calcutta). Chalcophaps indica. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 26 (part.).
Vernacular names. Ram-ghugu, Raj-ghugu (Beng.); Andibella-guwa (Tel.) ; Pathaki-praa (Tam.); Ka-er (Lepcha); Mutirepuka (Assam); Sil-kepa (Naogang, Assam); Gyo-sane, Gyo-sein (Burmese), Daotualai (Cachari).
Description.— Male. Forehead and broad supercilia white, changing to dark blue-grey on the crown and nape; sides of the head, neck, shoulders and upper breast a deep vinous-red, paling on the abdomen and lower breast ; back, scapulars, wing-coverts and inner secondaries metallic emerald-green with a varying amount of bronze reflections, in a few individuals this bronze tint practically replacing the green; edge of wing, bastard-wing, primaries, outer secondaries, and greater coverts dark brown ; inner secondaries like the back; least wing-coverts and shoulder of wing vinous-red like the neck, sometimes more grey, bordered by a fringe of white feathers ; lower back deep copper-bronze with a band of feathers across fringed white or greyish-white ; rump grey next the lower back, deepening to brown towards the upper tail-coverts which are grey edged with dark brown; tail brown, the outer two or three pairs grey with a broad black band; under tail-coverts dark slaty-grey ; under aspect of wing bright brick or copper-red. Occasionally a very old male has a few spots of metallic green or bronze on the lower breast and abdomen.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel or dark brown; the eyelids leaden-grey; bill red, the cere darker and rather sanguine, the tip paler and more coral-red; legs and feet coral-red, the soles paler and the claws pale horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 250 to 270 mm.; wing 148 to 161 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm.; culmen about 15 to 16 mm. Females are rather smaller—wing average 142 as against 146 mm. in males.
Females. Very old birds are said to be indistinguishable from the male but whenever I have shot pairs of this Dove the differences have been noticeable. Generally there is less white on the forehead and supercilia and the grey crown and nape is sometimes suffused with reddish ; the white wing-patch and white bars across the rump are not so pronounced; the central tail-feathers are a redder brown and only the outermost pair of feathers are grey.
Young males are like the females but still duller in colour and the bronze-green is less in extent and freely barred with copper-red ; there is a broad rufous bar across the wing, the inner secondaries are tipped with rufous-red and the whole under plumage barred dull brown and rufous.
Distribution. Travancore to Bombay on the West coast; Kashmir and Kuman to Eastern Assam in the Himalayas; Bengal, Behar, Orissa and the East coast at least as far as Masulipatam; Northern Burma as far as the Shan States, Tenasserim, the Andamans and Nicobars, but not the dry central zone of Burma; the Malay States and Malay Archipelago to the Philippines.
Nidification. The Emerald Dove breeds wherever found from the plains up to some 2,000 feet, but not often above 3,000 feet. The nest is a typical Dove's nest made of small twigs and sticks but is rather well put together and has a definite depression for the eggs. Most nests are built on high bushes, saplings or clumps of bamboos between 5 and 10 feet from the ground, whilst in Tenasserim Davison found nests in .young coco-nut palms about 0 feet from the ground. The eggs, two in number, are not white but a pale creamy-yellow, buff or cafe-au-lait. The surface is smooth and sometimes glossy, the shape is almost elliptical and the texture fine and close. One hundred eggs average 27.0 x 21.0 mm.; maxima 28.8 x 22.3 mm.; minima 23.5 x 19.6 mm.
The breeding-season is during January and February in the Andamans, Nicobars and Tenasserim but in Burma and North-East India most eggs are laid from March to May whilst eggs may be taken up to September and many birds have two or even three broods.
Habits. This little Dove is a forest-bird, frequenting humid evergreen forests in preference, though being found also in deciduous forest and scrub-jungle. It seems to love to feed in the middle of forest-tracks and, when disturbed, flashes away for two or three hundred yards at great speed and then alights. This process may be repeated several times until the birds, they are nearly always in pairs, double back through the forest and return to the path behind one. It is a great haunter of salt licks, and in Cachar some of these are known as "Doves' homes." On the ground they run well and when catching termites are very speedy. Except for termites they are purely vegetarian and though they eat several kinds of grain are principally fruit-eaters. Their note is a soft, very deep low " coo."