The Sot Leg, or Pacific Emerald Dove, is a squat ground-dwelling pigeon found in tropical and sub-tropical parts of Indonesia, Australia, and the western Pacific. It is found in all provinces of Vanuatu. They are usually solitary but can be found in small groups.
It is rarely found above 600 m in elevation.
The male has a white patch on the edge of its shoulders and grey crown. Females have a browner complexion and a grey mark on the shoulder. Adults have eyes that are dark brown and the bill bright orange-red. Young birds resemble females with brown scallops on their bodies and wings. Their wings have less green and the bill is dull.
One toe faces backwards and three face forwards. The back and wings are emerald-green (shiny green), though the green can be inconspicuous when in flight. When in flight, pale bars on the back may be seen and the underwing is buff coloured. The shoulder is bright pale blue. Flight feathers and tail are blackish. The head and underparts are a muddy purple-rufous colour and the legs and feet are rufous.
The Sot Leg is stocky and medium sized, typically 23-28 cm in length (from head to tail).
Its song is an accelerating and rising series of around six to seven mournful coos. They also have a nasal “hoo-hoo-hoon” call.
Forages on the ground, often searching for fallen fruit. They also eat seeds.
Flight is fast and direct, but it prefers to walk rather than fly. It is often flushed when approached closely and has a loud wing-clatter.
The Sot Leg builds a stick nest in trees, up to 5 m from the ground. It lays two cream-coloured eggs. The males perform a bobbing dance when courting the females.
When to Look
Where to Look
This is the only small ground pigeon found on most islands of Vanuatu.
The adults differ from the Santa Cruz Ground Dove, on Sando and some Temotu islands, as Sot Leg have a more distinct green on their wings, bars on their back and an orange bill, and by slower wing-beats when flushed.
The Pacific Imperial Pigeon has a paler front and its wings are not as green. Adult Pacific Imperial Pigeon has a knob over its nostrils.