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A photo of a African Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatrix)
African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

Columba arquatrix

The African olive pigeon, or Rameron pigeon, is a robust bird, with adults typically measuring 37 to 42 cm in length and weighing between 300 to 450 grams. The species boasts a maroon back and wings, adorned with white speckles on the shoulders. Its underparts are similarly maroon with abundant white spotting. A grey head with distinctive yellow patches around the eyes and a yellow bill can be noted. The neck feathers, which are used in displays, are streaked with maroon and white. The underwing and undertail present a dark grey hue, while the feet are a striking yellow. Females resemble males but are slightly less vibrant, and juveniles display dark brown instead of maroon and grey, with duller greenish-yellow bare parts and pale fringes on their wing feathers. In flight, this pigeon appears quite dark and exhibits the typical quick flapping and occasional sharp wing flicks of its kind. Its call is a resonant "coo coo."

Identification Tips

To identify the African olive pigeon, look for the large size, maroon and white speckled plumage, and the yellow around the eye and bill. In flight, the dark appearance and characteristic pigeon wingbeats are key identification features.

Habitat

This pigeon favors the cool, moist forest canopies at altitudes above 1,400 meters, although it can be found as low as 700 meters in certain areas. It adapts to mountain fynbos, secondary growth, and clearings, and may venture into agricultural lands if not disturbed.

Distribution

The African olive pigeon is a resident breeder across much of eastern and southern Africa, from Ethiopia to the Cape. Notable populations are also found in western Angola, southwestern Saudi Arabia, and northern Yemen. Despite being locally common, its distribution is patchy, reflecting its specific habitat preferences.

Behaviour

Breeding

The African olive pigeon constructs a sizable stick nest high in a tree, often up to 15 meters off the ground, and lays one, occasionally two, white eggs. These eggs are incubated for a period of 17 to 20 days until hatching, with the fledglings taking to the wing some 20 days later. The male's courtship display includes deep bows and a distinctive flight pattern involving a climb, wing clapping, and a slow descent.

Feeding

This species primarily feeds on fruits and berries, usually foraged in the canopy, though it will also feed on fallen fruit and occasionally insects and caterpillars. In the southern part of its range, it has a particular preference for the fruit of the invasive bugweed, Solanum mauritianum. Birds may travel considerable distances from their roosts to feeding areas, and those that are young or not breeding may gather in flocks. The African olive pigeon has also been observed partaking in geophagy, consuming clay soil with a basic pH and high sodium content, likely to supplement minerals and buffer the stomach pH due to their acidic diet.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the African olive pigeon as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers that would warrant a higher risk category.

African Olive Pigeon Sounds

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