The common emerald dove

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A common emerald dove forages for food in Bijia Hill Park in Futian District on June 19, 2021.

One of the rarest species you can find in Shenzhen is the emerald dove (Chalcophaps indica), that is, if you have keen eyesight, because they are really difficult to spot due to their camouflage colors that blend perfectly with the ground cover where they live.


A common emerald dove perches on a branch in Bijia Hill Park in Futian District on June 19, 2021.

The common emerald doves are beautiful indeed, their faces garnished with a striking silver cap that draws a fabulous line over the eyes and back to the head. And their wings' feathers are emerald green, sometimes also adorned by a white layer on the top. The beak is red and the neck is brown; the tip of the back feathers is blackish. Altogether it brings a fantastic combination of colors that are extremely pleasant to observe.


These amazing birds are usually loners or sometimes observed as couples, which is another reason why it’s not too easy to find them. They usually remain on the ground foraging for fruit, small plants and seeds, and prefer dense forests like the ones we find in parks such as Bijia Hill, which is home to one of the few couples that inhabit the urban area of Shenzhen.


A common emerald dove perches on a branch in Bijia Hill Park in Futian District on May 30, 2021.

The green doves don’t lay many eggs, mostly just one or two, and it is common that only one of the hatchlings survives, as the newborns are not very strong. Being blind, naked and very weak, they require strong parental care that both parents are responsible for from the moment of incubation. They take about two weeks to be ready to fly. When fully grown, they reach a length of about 25 centimeters.


As sad as it may sound, the biggest threat to emerald doves are humans. As people like to keep the beautiful birds in cages as pets, their illegal trafficking is common. Also, because of habitat loss, the species is scattered to places where survival can be easier. It's not quite common to see them in every park of the city.


Although a rare sight in parks of the city, the species is not considered endangered, for there are plenty of them in their habitats in the wilderness.