About the same size as a common pigeon but with closer plumage and a somewhat longer bill. Mantle and outer wing coverts a dark reddish purple, outer wing coverts bluish gray. White triangular-shaped marks on tips of wing coverts form a profuse white spotting over the closed wing. Primaries and secondaries dusky blue. Tail blackish with white edges. Neck feathers chestnut at base tipped with silvery green or pink. The sexes are alike.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Wide distribution from Senegal to Eritrea and Tanzania. Also in South Africa north to Angola and Zimbabwe. Inhabits open country, cultivated regions and open woodland. Avoids forest. Usually in areas where there are Borassus palms or cliffs, rocky outcrops or buildings where it roosts and builds its nest.
Mainly a ground feeder. Feeds on seeds and cultivated grain.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Usually found in pairs or small parties, but large numbers may aggregate at good feeding sites. Builds fairly substantial nests of sticks in cavities at the base of leaves of the Borassus palm, in holes in trees and on sheltered ledges of cliffs or buildings. Lays two white oval eggs which hatch after 15-16 days; young fledged at 20-23 days. The bowing display is similar to that of the common pigeon.
Flight direct and fairly fast. Walks and runs nimbly on the ground.
Associates with common pigeons, especially in the towns and villages of South Africa.
STATUS IN WILD:
Not endangered, but listed on Appendix III of CITES (threatened in a specific country).