- History and Culture
Nesoenas picturatus commonly known as the Malagasy turtle dove, is a species of bird of the pigeon and dove family. Measuring approximately 38 centimeters, the species are distinguished by blueish-grey head and upper tail which contrast with its reddish purple wings while the neck and breast are a dark pinkish-purple. Females are slightly duller than males, while juveniles are greyish brown throughout.
It is native to Madagascar, the Comoros and Seychelles, and has been introduced to the Amirantes, Mauritius, Reunion and the Chagos archipelago. It is believed that the current population of Madagascar turtle doves have been introduced around 1770 following the extinction of a small dove species. The native habitat of the Madagascar Turtle Dove is forest, but the birds also dwells in degraded woodland, cultivation areas and forested areas found near human habitation. In Mauritius, they can be found throughout the island ranging from forests, rural populated areas to urban areas. They are common in the forests of the Black River Gorges and Bel Ombre.
The dove forages for seeds on the ground in areas free of dense cover but this species will also eat fallen fruit and the occasional invertebrate. This turtle dove exhibits similar courtship behaviours as other species of the same family; males have special vocalizations used for courtship and attracting females and others for signalling danger and defending their territory. The Madagascar turtle dove build flat nests at 1.5 to 5 meters above ground. These consist mostly of twigs. They lay 2 white eggs.
The species is not considered threatened, as it is common throughout its native range as well as in introduced areas. However, some local races have been threatened or have become extinct due to the introduction of the nominate race from Madagascar. In Mauritius, it is believed that although N. picturata and N. Mayeri are ecologically distinct and do not compete with each other, there are risks that the similarity of cooing between the two species may lead to reproductive interference, as there may be “signal jamming”.