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10 Fascinating Facts About the African Collared-Dove

The African Collared-Dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea, is a bird that is frequently seen throughout the continent of Africa. Known for its distinctive collar of black feathers around its neck, this species is a popular subject among bird watchers and ornithologists alike.

In this article, we will explore the African Collared-Dove, its identification, plumages, and molts.

Identification

Field Identification

The African Collared-Dove is a medium-sized bird with a plump body and a relatively small head. It has a striking collar of black feathers around its neck and a pale greyish-pink body.

Its wings are long and pointed, and its tail is relatively short and squared-off. The beak of the African Collared-Dove is short and stubby, and its eyes are a bright red color, making it a distinctive bird that is easily recognizable in the field.

Similar Species

The African Collared-Dove is similar in appearance to several other dove species. However, the collar of black feathers around its neck distinguishes it from other species such as the Ring-necked Dove and the Laughing Dove.

It also has a much paler body than the Ring-necked Dove, which has a darker brown or chestnut-colored body.

Plumages

The African Collared-Dove has two distinct plumages, the adult plumage and juvenile plumage.

Adult Plumage: The adult African Collared-Dove’s plumage is pale greyish-pink in color.

The collar of black feathers around its neck is easily visible on adult birds. The wings and tail have black stripes, and the eyes are a bright red color.

Juvenile Plumage: The juvenile African Collared-Dove has a much duller plumage than the adult bird. The body is less pink and has a more brownish-grey tone.

The collar of black feathers around its neck is also less prominent, and the eyes are a duller red color.

Molts

The African Collared-Dove undergoes two molts in its lifetime, the prebasic molt and the prealternate molt. Prebasic Molt: The prebasic molt occurs after the breeding season, with the juvenile bird molting into adult plumage.

This molt typically occurs in late summer to early fall. Prealternate Molt: The prealternate molt occurs in the spring, before the breeding season.

During this molt, the African Collared-Dove’s plumage becomes brighter and more vibrant. The collar of black feathers around its neck becomes more prominent, and the eyes become a brighter red color.

In conclusion, the African Collared-Dove is a fascinating and easily recognizable bird that is widely distributed throughout Africa. Its distinctive collar of black feathers and pale greyish-pink body make it a popular subject for bird watchers and ornithologists.

The plumages and molts of the African Collared-Dove provide insight into the life cycle of this species and add to our understanding of its behavior and biology.

Systematics History

The African Collared-Dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea, belongs to the family Columbidae, which includes all doves and pigeons. The species was first described by the English naturalist Thomas Edward Bidwill in 1833.

Over the years, there have been several changes to the classification of the African Collared-Dove.

Geographic Variation

The African Collared-Dove is a widely distributed species, found throughout Africa. There are slight variations in plumage and size across different regions of the continent.

Subspecies

The African Collared-Dove has several recognized subspecies, each with its own unique distribution range and plumage characteristics. Streptopelia roseogrisea roseogrisea – This subspecies is found in West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Central African Republic.

It has a pale greyish-pink body, with a more prominent collar of black feathers around the neck than other subspecies. Streptopelia roseogrisea sokotrae – This subspecies is found on the island of Socotra, off the coast of Yemen.

It is smaller in size than other subspecies, with a darker body and less prominent collar of black feathers. Streptopelia roseogrisea ermanni – This subspecies is found in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

It is similar in appearance to the nominate subspecies, but with a slightly darker body and less prominent collar of black feathers. Streptopelia roseogrisea arabica – This subspecies is found in the Arabian Peninsula, from Yemen to Oman.

It has a darker and more uniform body color than other subspecies, with a less prominent collar of black feathers.

Related Species

The African Collared-Dove is closely related to several other dove species, including the Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) and the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). The Eurasian Collared-Dove, which was introduced to North America in the 1970s, is now a common breeding bird throughout much of the continent.

The Mourning Dove is a widespread species in North America, known for its mournful cooing call.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The African Collared-Dove’s distribution has changed over time, both naturally and due to human activities. Fossil evidence suggests that the species was present in North Africa during the Pleistocene epoch, but disappeared from the region during the Holocene.

It is unclear whether this was due to environmental changes or human activities. In recent times, the African Collared-Dove has expanded its range due to a combination of factors, including climate change and human activities.

Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the species expanded its range northwards from its original distribution in West Africa. It is currently found as far north as southern Spain and southern Italy.

The expansion of the African Collared-Dove’s range can be attributed to several factors. Climatic conditions, such as warmer temperatures and increased rainfall, have created suitable habitat for the species in areas where it was previously absent.

In addition, human activities such as urbanization and agricultural practices have provided the species with additional food sources and nesting sites. In conclusion, the African Collared-Dove is a fascinating species that is widely distributed throughout Africa, with several recognized subspecies.

The species has shown signs of range expansion in recent years, likely due to a combination of environmental and human factors. Further research on the African Collared-Dove’s systematics and distribution history will continue to provide insight into the species’ biology, behavior, and evolution.

Habitat

The African Collared-Dove is a ubiquitous species that is found in a variety of habitats throughout its range. The species is typically associated with open woodlands, savannahs, and agricultural lands.

It is also frequently found in urban and suburban areas where it can be seen perched on wires and buildings. In West Africa, the African Collared-Dove is often found in forest-clearing habitats, while in eastern and southern Africa it is more often seen in acacia savannah and woodland habitats.

The species has also adapted to living in human-modified environments, including urban parks and gardens and agricultural lands.

Movements and Migration

The African Collared-Dove is considered a non-migratory species. However, there is some evidence to suggest that birds in northern populations may undertake some form of local migration or dispersal to find food and suitable nesting sites.

In some regions, African Collared-Doves have been observed moving from rural areas to urban areas during the dry season in search of food and water. This movement is likely driven by the availability of food resources, with urban environments providing a reliable food source during times of scarcity.

Despite this occasional movement, African Collared-Doves are generally sedentary birds that remain within their home range throughout the year. Males will defend territories during the breeding season, with the size of the territory varying depending on the quality of the habitat.

During the non-breeding season, the birds may form flocks of up to 50 individuals.

Breeding and Nesting

The African Collared-Dove is a monogamous species that typically breeds throughout the year, with peak breeding activity occurring during the wet season. Males will defend a nesting territory, which they will defend aggressively against other males.

The female African Collared-Dove will build a simple platform nest made from twigs and sticks. The nest is typically located in the fork of a tree or shrub, and both male and female birds will contribute to its construction.

The female will lay one or two eggs, which are white and about 26 mm in length. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs for about 14 days.

Upon hatching, the chicks are covered in yellowish down feathers and are completely dependent on their parents for food and protection. The parents will regurgitate food for the chicks, and after about 14-16 days, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest.

The young birds will remain with their parents for several weeks after fledging, and during this time, they will learn important survival skills such as foraging and avoiding predators. In conclusion, the African Collared-Dove is a widespread species that is found in a variety of habitats throughout Africa.

Although the species is generally sedentary, some northern populations may undertake local movements in search of food and suitable nesting sites. The African Collared-Dove is a monogamous species that typically breeds throughout the year, nesting in tree forks and shrubs.

The species is well adapted to living in human-modified environments and is a familiar sight in urban and suburban areas. Further research is needed to better understand the species’ movements, breeding biology, and adaptations to different habitats.

Diet and Foraging

The African Collared-Dove is a seed- and grain-eating bird that forages on the ground and in trees. The species is an opportunistic feeder and will consume a wide variety of plant matter, including seeds, grains, fruits, and leaves.

Feeding

The African Collared-Dove is primarily a ground forager, but will also forage in trees and shrubs. The birds will typically feed in pairs or small groups, often near water sources such as rivers or ponds.

The birds will use their beaks to probe the ground or pluck seeds and fruits from trees. They will also pick up fallen seeds and grains.

African Collared-Doves have relatively weak bills, and therefore tend to feed on soft seeds and fruits, such as those from grasses, herbs, and small shrubs.

Diet

The African Collared-Dove is an herbivorous species that primarily feeds on seeds and grains. The species is known to consume a wide variety of plant material, including seeds, grains, fruits, and leaves.

In West Africa, African Collared-Doves have been observed feeding on millet and sorghum, two common crops in the region. In other areas of the continent, the birds may feed on seeds from grasses, herbs, and small shrubs.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The African Collared-Dove is a warm-blooded bird that is capable of regulating its body temperature. Like all birds, the African Collared-Dove has a high metabolic rate, which allows it to maintain a constant body temperature even in extreme environments.

During hot weather, the African Collared-Dove will use several strategies to regulate its body temperature. The birds will pant, spreading their beak open to release heat.

They may also seek shade and dip their bodies in water to cool down. During cold weather, the African Collared-Dove will fluff up its feathers to trap a layer of warm air next to its body, providing insulation against the cold.

The birds may also huddle together in groups to conserve body heat.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

The African Collared-Dove has a distinctive cooing call that is often heard in urban and suburban areas. The species is a vocal bird and will make a variety of sounds during courtship, territorial displays, and social interactions.

Vocalization

The African Collared-Dove has a soft cooing call that is often described as sounding like “ka-rooh, ka-rooh, wroo”. The birds will call to each other during courtship and territorial displays, as well as when feeding or perched in trees.

African Collared-Doves are also known for their wing whistling, a sound produced by the rapid flapping of their wings during courtship displays. Wing whistling is often accompanied by cooing, and is used by males to attract females.

During social interactions, the birds will also produce a variety of calls and sounds, including harsh scolding notes, grunting sounds, and soft coos. These sounds are used to communicate with other birds and to establish dominance and social hierarchy.

In conclusion, the African Collared-Dove is a seed- and grain-eating bird that forages on the ground and in trees. The species is well-adapted to regulating its body temperature in different environments and has a distinctive cooing call that is often heard in urban and suburban environments.

Further research is needed to better understand the species’ diet and foraging behavior, as well as its vocalizations and social interactions.

Behavior

Locomotion

The African Collared-Dove is a ground-dwelling bird that typically moves around by walking or running. The species is not well adapted to flying long distances and is generally considered a weak flier.

However, the birds are capable of short bursts of flight and will take to the air to escape predators or to travel short distances.

Self Maintenance

Like all birds, the African Collared-Dove devotes a significant amount of time to preening and grooming its feathers. The birds will use their beaks to clean and arrange their feathers, which helps to maintain their insulation and waterproofing capabilities.

African Collared-Doves will also bathe regularly, either by splashing in water or by preening with wet feathers. Bathing helps to remove dirt and parasites from the birds’ feathers and skin, keeping them clean and healthy.

Agonistic Behavior

African Collared-Dove are territorial birds that will defend their nesting territories aggressively against intruders. Males will engage in elaborate displays to defend their territories, including bowing, cooing, and wing-whistling.

They may also engage in physical confrontations with intruders, using their beaks and wings to fend off rivals.

Sexual Behavior

The African Collared-Dove is a monogamous species that typically forms pair bonds with a single mate. During the breeding season, males will engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract a female mate.

These displays may include bowing, cooing, wing-whistling, and bill-cooing. The birds will also engage in mutual preening, feeding, and other social interactions to strengthen their bond.

Breeding

African Collared-Doves are capable of breeding throughout the year, with peak breeding activity occurring during the wet season in some regions. Males will defend a nesting territory and will engage in aggressive displays to deter intruders.

The female African Collared-Dove will build a simple platform nest made from twigs and sticks, which she will place in the fork of a tree or shrub. Both male and female birds will contribute to the nest construction.

The female will lay one or two eggs, which she will incubate for about 14 days. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

Upon hatching, the chicks are born helpless and are completely dependent on their parents for food and protection.

Demography and Populations

The African Collared-Dove has a wide distribution and is considered a species of least concern by the IUCN. However, some populations may be declining due to habitat loss and hunting pressure.

In some regions, African Collared-Doves are considered a pest species due to their habit of feeding on crops. Farmers may use various measures, such as scare tactics or pesticides, to deter the birds from their fields.

Despite some localized pressures, the African Collared-Dove is generally considered a common and widespread species, with stable populations across much of Africa. Further research is needed to better understand the species’ demography and population trends, particularly in areas where it is intensively hunted or where habitat loss is impacting its distribution and abundance.

In conclusion, the African Collared-Dove is a ground-dwelling bird that engages in elaborate courtship displays, territorial behavior, and mutual preening. The species is capable of breeding throughout the year and is a monogamous species.

African Collared-Dove populations are generally considered stable, with some localized pressures on the species due to hunting and habitat loss. Further research is needed to better understand the species’ breeding biology, behavior, and population dynamics.

The African Collared-Dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea, is a widespread and fascinating species found throughout Africa. Through this article, we have explored the species’ identification, plumages, molts, distribution, habitat, movements, behavior, breeding, and populations.

The African Collared-Dove is an adaptable bird that has shown some degree of range expansion in recent years, likely due to a combination of environmental and human factors. The species is well-adapted to regulating its body temperature and is capable of breeding throughout the year.

African Collared-Doves are also territorial birds that engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract mates and defend their nesting territories. Understanding the biology, behavior,

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