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A photo of a Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), male
Namaqua Dove, Male

Namaqua Dove

Oena capensis

The Namaqua dove (Oena capensis) is a diminutive member of the pigeon family, Columbidae, and the sole representative of the genus Oena. This small pigeon, akin in size to a sparrow, is notable for its elongated black tail and predominantly grey plumage, accented by a white belly and chestnut primary feathers that reveal themselves in flight.

Identification Tips

Adult males are distinguished by their striking black faces, throats, and breasts, along with a beak that is yellow with a red base. Females, on the other hand, lack the bold black markings and possess a red-based grey bill. Juveniles share a resemblance with females but are marked by dark blotches on their wings and shoulders.


The Namaqua dove thrives in semi-arid environments, favoring areas dotted with acacia trees and shrubs.


This species enjoys a broad range across Sub-Saharan Africa, extending to the Arabian Peninsula, southern Israel, southwestern Jordan, and the island of Madagascar. It has also been known to venture beyond its usual range, with sightings in South Asian locales such as Karachi and the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary in India.


The Namaqua dove exhibits a terrestrial inclination, often seen foraging on the ground or along roadsides. It is not particularly social outside of mating pairs and may congregate in larger numbers only at water sources. Its flight is characterized by rapid, clipped wingbeats and a preference for staying close to the ground.

Song & Calls

The male's vocalization is a subdued, mournful coo, consisting of a short, double note that rises in pitch, often repeated.


The Namaqua dove constructs a simple stick nest within a bush. The typical clutch consists of two white eggs, which are incubated for about 16 days. The female tends to the eggs during the night and early morning, while the male takes over from mid-morning until late afternoon.

Similar Species

While its long tail may draw comparisons to the budgerigar, the Namaqua dove's size, coloration, and habitat preferences help distinguish it from other species.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Namaqua dove is almost exclusively composed of minute seeds from grasses, sedges, and weeds.

Conservation status

The Namaqua dove is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant threats at this time.

Namaqua Dove Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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