Speckled Pigeon

African Savanna

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Columba guinea
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Columba

Size

Male

Female

Height:
Length: 12.5 inches – 16 inches 12.5 inches – 16 inches
Weight: 11 – 13.75 ounces 11 – 13 ounces
Maturity: Unknown Unknown

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Herbivorous
Activity Timeframe: Diurnal
Interactivity: Social
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: Incubation, 14-16 days
Lifespan in the Wild: Less than in captivity
Lifespan in Captivity: 15 – 30 years

Geographic Range

The Speckled pigeon is widespread throughout Africa. It occurs in a band that stretches from southern Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, east to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia, then south through Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. There is an isolated population in southern Angola, northern Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, western Mozambique, and most of South Africa.

Conservation

Status in the Wild: Least Concerned
Threats:

Characteristics

The speckled pigeon is a little larger than the pigeons (rock doves) we see in cities here in the US. They have a light gray head, chest, belly, and tail. The upper wings and back are maroon to brown, fading to dark gray at the tips and leading edge of the wing, and speckled with white. The neck and breast are reddish, with the feathers fading to gray. The skin surrounding the eye is red and featherless, and the eye is amber. The beak is short and dark gray, and the feet are red-pink. Males and females look alike, though males are more heavily built. Juveniles have an overall brownish gray coloring.

Species Specifics

There are two or three subspecies of Speckled Pigeon, depending on the source. The nominate subspecies, C. g. guinea, is found in the northern part of the range, from Senegal and Guinea east to Ethiopia and Somalia, then south through Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. C. g. phaeonata is found in eastern Zimbabwe and South Africa. C. g. bradfieldi is found from southwestern Angola to western Zimbabwe, south to the northwestern corner of South Africa.

Physical Characteristics

Their wings are very strong, helping them fly quickly over long distances.

Ecology

Habitat

This is an adaptable species, inhabiting savanna, open woodland, agricultural fields, and urban areas. They will use cliffs, gorges, and rocky outcroppings, as well as roosting on tall buildings in cities. They are absent from dense forest and desert.

Distribution

These birds may travel up to 15 miles away from their roosting site to forage.

Diet

It feeds on grains and seeds primarily, but occasionally will also eat fruits and leaves.

Ecological Web

Speckled Pigeons may be prey to hawks, eagles, snakes, and other carnivores. Additionally, pigeon eggs may be food to opportunistic animals.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

The day is spent foraging for food, and the pigeons may travel up to 15 miles to get it.

Behavior

Flocking behavior helps minimize the risk of predation, which gets spread out over the entire flock.

Social Behavior

The Speckled Pigeon is a social bird, often seen in pairs or small groups and flying and feeding in large flocks. Some flocks can contain up to 700 birds!

Reproductive Behavior

Breeding takes place year-round, but peaks at the end of the dry season. During courtship, the male will bow low, flick his wings, and vocalize, puffing out his throat and making the feathers point outward. The nest and be constructed of sticks and grass, a shallow scrape, or a cavity, and are made in trees, on cliffs and buildings, or at the base of the leaves of the Borassus palms. In urban areas, human-made items can be found in the nest structure.

Offspring

On average, the typical clutch is 2 small white eggs. Male and female both incubate them for about two weeks, and then broods the chicks for the first couple of days. Both parents will feed the chick with crop milk. Chicks fledge between 20 to 25 days, depending on location.

Conservation

Status

The Speckled Pigeon is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and is not listed on any of the CITES Appendices.

Historical

The species was formally described in 1758. The subspecies C. g. phaeonata was recognized in 1856, and C. g. bradfieldi was recognized in 1931.

Current Threats

Our Role

Exhibit and educate

How You Can Help

Birds often use what they find in their environment to build their nest. In urban areas, they may end up with human refuse in their nest. Please make sure that you properly dispose of and sort your waste so that they do not end up in an animal’s home.

Fascinating Facts

While the Speckled Pigeon is a strong flyer, like all pigeons and doves, it will also run and walk to get away from threats.

The Speckled Pigeon is related closely to the Rock Dove, commonly called a pigeon, which is found in most U.S. cities. In fact, all pigeons and doves are in the same family, Columbidae!

Some members of the Columbidae family can use their beak like a straw to suck up water! Most birds have to toss their head back to drink.

Both male and female will feed their chicks crop milk, which is a secretion from the lining of the crop and is regurgitated to the young birds. The crop is a pouch in the esophagus and is part of the digestive tract. It is used to temporarily store food.

When the chicks hatch, they are covered with yellow down feathers! The feathers darken as they grow and molt. They acquire adult plumage at maturity.

References

http://eol.org/pages/1049682/details

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22690080/0#sectionAmended

http://www.waza.org/en/zoo/choose-a-species/birds/doves-and-pigeons-columbiformes/columba-guinea

http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/columbidae/columba_guinea.htm

http://www.hbw.com/species/speckled-pigeon-columba-guinea

http://zoo.avantia.net/animals/123

http://www.hhpz.org/files/hhpz/documents/AnimalFactSheets/speckled.pdf

P.O. Box 5238

9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605