(1872) Streptopelia orientalis meena.
THE INDIAN RUFOUS TURTLE-DOVE.
Turtur meena Sykes, P. Z. S., 1832, p. 149 (Deccan). Turtur orientalis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 40 (part.).
Vernacular names. Kalo fakhta, Barko fakhta (Hind.) ; Sam ghugu, Ram ghughu (Beng.); Daotu-gajao (Cachari); Puko (Assam) ; Inrui ku (Naga); Vch-gura (Kuki).
Description. Similar to S. o. orientalis but much more darkly and richly coloured; the head has much less grey; the vent, thighs and under tail-coverts are a darker slaty-grey; the lower parts are more ferruginous and the centre of the belly is not albescent.
Colours of soft parts as in other races. Measurements. Wing 162 to 183 mm.
Distribution. Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Assam and throughout Burma to Tenasserim. In India it is found as far West as Chota Nagpur extending through the Bhutan Terai into the lower ranges of Sikkim and I have seen typical breeding-birds from Darjeeling, though here most individuals are intermediate this district forming the meeting-place for all three races as breeding-birds. In Winter it may straggle far, there are two specimens from Mailables war in the British Museum collection and it occurs and breeds both in the Deccan and the Central Provinces.
Nidification. This little Dove breeds practically throughout the year, having two or often three broods. In Sambalpur most eggs are laid from December to March; in Assam and Bengal from March to May and June and in Burma February to April. The nests are typical of the family but have more of a hollow for the eggs than most Doves' nests though they are as fragile and flimsy as usual The favourite nesting-site is a thick bush, cane-brake or small tree, but I have taken them from bamboo-clumps and,, very rarely, high trees. Eighty eggs average 28.4 x 22.4 mm. : maxima 31.7 X 22.4 and 30.5 x 24.3 mm.; minima 25.4 X 20.7 and 26.4 x 19.8 mm.
In Sikkim and the Assam Hills this Dove breeds up to some 6,000 feet but in the hills South of the Brahmapootra rarely up to 4,000 feet.
Habits. The Indian Rufous Turtle-Dove is a resident bird over most of its habitat but it deserts the higher hills in Winter and, on the other hand, wanders further South and West during that season. These birds are very sociable and often feed together in large numbers; Blewitt and Jerdon speak of large flocks but such I have never seen, the presumed flocks always breaking up into pairs when disturbed. They are better eating than any of the Pigeons and sometimes give very good sport when feeding in the rice-fields as they are quick to rise and very fast on the wing. Their note is a deep rather guttural " coo " repeated thrice; in addition Blewitt says that when irritated they utter a " loud hissing kind of note." They feed principally on grain and seeds but eat many kinds of fruit and also the shoots and buds of certain plants.