South Africa is blessed with quite a collection of pigeon and dove species. Of the 15 species that call southern Africa home, I was able to see 12. Ranging in size from the massive African Olive-Pigeon to the tiny Emerald Spotted Wood-Dove, they are all beautiful and at least one species can be found in every habitat you could encounter in South Africa. Below are a few photos I took of some of these beautiful birds.
Let’s start with my favorite of the southern African pigeons, the African Green-Pigeon. This species eats only fruit and can often be seen climbing around in a fig tree like a parrot, searching for food. This species, in my mind, is the most beautiful of all the pigeons and doves in SA, and lucky for birders, is quite common in the proper habitat.
The Speckled Pigeon is one of the most common birds in urban areas of South Africa and is a nice change from the boring and dirty-looking Rock Dove. This bird can also be found in rocky, mountainous areas.
Another common species is the Red-eyed Dove; a rather large dove with a striking red eye just as its name suggests. The Red-eyed Dove is very diverse in its habitat preferences and also very noisy and annoying when you are trying to sleep in in the mornings and it wakes you with its loud call.
Very similar to the Red-eyed Dove is the Cape Turtle-Dove (also known as the Ring-necked Dove). This species is smaller than the Red-eyed Dove and has black eyes. It can be found in virtually every habitat in southern Africa.
The Laughing Dove is smaller than the other species I have shown above, but makes up for it in its stunning coloration. The black-flecked necklace and cinnamon-colored back are absolutely amazing and made this one of my favorite species to see. This species is probably one of the most common and well-known species in South Africa.