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The laughing dove is a long-tailed, slim member of the pigeon family, usually around 25cm long. It is pinkish brown on the underside with a lilac tinged head and neck. The head and underparts are pinkish, shading to buff on the lower abdomen. A chequered rufous and grey patch is found on the sides of the neck and are made up of split feathers.
The upper parts are brownish with a bluish-grey band along the wing. They have a bluish grey rump and upper tail coverts. The tail is graduated and the outer feathers are tipped in white.
The legs are red.
The populations vary slightly in plumage with those from more arid zones being paler.
The sexes are indistinguishable in the field, but young birds lack the chequered neck markings.
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