Pigeon Wing Displays/White-necked Heron failure

Subject: Pigeon Wing Displays/White-necked Heron failure
From: Penny Brockman <>
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 10:48:14 +1000
Here in Gloucester Mid North Coast, NSW I've seen White-headed Pigeons doing this - a few days ago, an immature and an adult perched in a neighbour's tree - the immature raising its wing to the very weak sunshine.

Sadly the White-faced Heron nest has failed in my neighbour's tall gum. There was only one heron feeding the 2 chicks on 13 Sept. When I returned from bird surveys late Friday, had a look at the nest Saturday morning 18th and it was empty. One adult visited briefly. It would appear one adult met with an accident and the other was unable to feed the chicks on its own. There were no storms or heavy rain in this period.

The "raised wing" sunbathing display is employed by three species of Australian pigeons that I know well, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove and Bar-shouldered Dove; undoubtedly there are more.

For the Crested Pigeon, a brief reference to it is made in HANZAB pointing to Frith's Pigeons and Doves of Australia where it is illustrated on page 241.

I've seen it most often during a light rain shower but it also occurs when the sun is warm during cooler weather. Bar-shouldered Doves do this frequently in our back yard at Beerwah in Qld during summer.

The brief flicking up of the wing described by Stephen Ambrose may be some other behaviour but during the "sunbathing sessions" I see here at home birds sometimes raise the wing briefly, sometimes several times almost as if they can't quite get comfortable. There are pictures of Bar-shouldered Doves sunbathing on my website.

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