(1881) Oenopopelia tranquebarica tranquebarica.
THE INDIAN RED TURTLE-DOVE.
Columba tranquebarica Herm., Obs. Zool., p. 200 (1804) (Tranquebarica). Oenopopelia tranquebarica. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 47 (part,).
Vernacular names. Seroti fakhta, Girwi fakhta, Biki (Hind.); Golabi ghugu Ithuiya ghugu, Tuma Khuri (Beng.); Itoo-ah (Bihari) ; Rah guwa (Tel.) ; Powarie (Marie Gond.).
Description.— Adult male. Upper part of head and neck dark ashy-grey, the sides of the head and sometimes the forehead and lores paler ; a black collar across the back and sides of the neck; the lowest feathers rarely narrowly edged with grey; back, scapulars, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries on visible portions vinous-red, tinged everywhere with brick-red except occasionally on the scapulars and back; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts dark slaty-grey; central tail-feathers light greyish-brown, the amount of grey varying considerably; succeeding two pairs dark grey at the base, pale grey on the terminal third, remaining feathers slaty-black on the basal two-thirds, white on the terminal third and on the outer web of the outermost pair; primary coverts and edge of wing greyish-black; quills blackish-brown, narrowly edged with whitish; chin and centre of the throat albescent; remainder of lower plumage to the vent vinous-red; vent and thighs white tinged with vinous and under tail-coverts almost pure white; axillaries, under wing-coverts and flanks pale grey, the latter sometimes pure white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown to dark brown; edge of eyelid plumbeous; bill black, tinged with plumbeous at base and on cere; legs dull red, purplish-red or brownish-lake ; claws black.
Measurements. Total length about 225 to 235 mm.; wing 130 to 140 mm.; tarsus about 17 to 18 mm.; culmen 13 to 14 mm.
Female. Head and mantle pale earthy-brown, greyish and paler on the head; lower throat and breast still paler earthy-brown with a faint vinous tinge; wing-coverts and inner secondaries like the back; the black collar is more definitely marked with grey.
Measurements. Wing 122 to 133 mm.
Young resemble the female but the feathers of the upper parts, wing-coverts and breast are narrowly edged with pale fulvous. Nestling in down yellowish-white.
Distribution. All India, East to Bengal and Bihar and to Western Nepal. West it is common in Sind, Rajputana and the Punjab but not in North-West Frontier Provinces. It has once been recorded from Ceylon by Layard.
Nidification. Like our other Indian Doves this bird's nest may be found in any month of the year but April, May and June form the three favourite breeding-months. They are not such frequenters of man's neighbourhood as are the Spotted and Brown Doves and though a few nests may be found in gardens and round villages, most are built in large trees, in well-wooded country, away from villages—some even in thin forest. The nest is flimsy, even for a Dove's, and is generally placed low down in the outer branches but often well concealed. The eggs are normally two, but three is not very rare; most are pure white but a few have a faint ivory tinge. Forty-nine eggs average 25.9 x 19.9 mm.: maxima 29.0 x 20.0 and 24.3 x 21.2 mm.; minima 23.9 x 21.0 and 25.1 x 18.6 mm.
Habits. Except that it is not quite so tame and confiding a bird, its habits are much like those of the Spotted Doves. It keeps to well-wooded country and is less common in the driest and most arid parts and never seems to wander very far from a good water-supply, where it can drink morning, noon and evening. It feeds almost, entirely on the ground on seeds, grain and berries and I have shot them with their crops full of shoots of mustard. In the North-west it is extremely numerous and though the birds keep in pairs they sometimes haunt the newly-cut rice-fields in such vast swarms of males alone that Pitman says the ground " looks a rich magenta colour in patches from the number of male Red Turtle-doves feeding there."