A Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) was observed yesterday while birding at Sidi Abdeslam, east of Tétouan, only some kilometres from the Strait of Gibraltar. The sighting was very brief and Rachid was only able to get 3 record shots from a distance (photo 1). To our knowledge this is the first observation of this species in the Tangier Peninsula.
Laughing Dove has colonised Morocco from western Algeria relatively quickly since the 1990s (but not as quick as the expansion of the Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) from north to south, see Bergier et al. 1999). Up until 2010, Laughing Dove has been observed nearly in the whole of Morocco with the exception of the Rif Mountains, high altitude in the Atlas Mountains and Tangier Peninsula. See the map showing the ‘Range of Laughing Dove in Morocco’ made by M. Thévenot on 11 March 2010 and reproduced in Hanane et al. 2011.
In the northern part of the country, it was only recorded before in eastern Morocco since 2004 (and started breeding in 2005) and along the Atlantic coast north to Larache where for instance Abdelhak Elbanak observed one bird on 24 June 2011. Whether Laughing Doves will start to breed during the next years or continue to wander around for some time, only time will tell us.
Bergier, P., Franchimont, J. & Thévenot, M. 1999. Implantation et expansion géographique de deux espèces de columbidés au Maroc: la Tourterelle Turque Streptopelia decaocto et la Tourterelle Maillée Streptopelia senegalensis. Alauda 67: 23-36. PDF
Hanane, S., Bergier, P. & Thévenot, M. 2011. La reproduction de la Tourterelle maillée Streptopelia senegalensis dans la plaine du Tadla (Maroc central) : analyse comparée avec la Tourterelle des bois Streptopelia turtur. Alauda 79: 17-28. PDF
- 2 March 2013: Rachid saw 5 Laughing Doves at the same place where we saw one bird in February. The breeding is more likely (see photos 2 & 3).
- 31 March 2013: Rachid saw 3 Laughing Doves at Sidi Abdeslam, east of Tétouan but at a different site (photo 4).
- May/June 2013: Laughing Doves seen again near a palm tree at the same spot where observed in February, their behaviour suggest that they are probably breeding. Looking forwards to see juveniles!
Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian