Bird O'clock

10 Fascinating Facts About the Black-billed Wood-Dove

The Black-billed Wood-Dove (Turtur abyssinicus) is a small pigeon found in various parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Often called Abyssinian Wood-Dove, it is a beautiful bird that features distinct physical characteristics that set it apart from other doves.

Identification

Field Identification

The Black-billed Wood-Dove measures around 20cm in length and weighs approximately 50g. It has a brownish-grey head and back, a bluish-grey breast, and a reddish-brown belly.

Its wings are a mix of reddish-brown and grey, with black primary feathers. The tail is short and dark brown with white tips.

The black bill is tiny, and the eyes are red.

Similar Species

The Black-billed Wood-Dove has several similar species, which makes its identification challenging. The Afer Wood-Dove (Turtur afer) has a similar appearance to the Black-billed Wood-Dove but can be distinguished by its black throat and a white belly.

The Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria), on the other hand, is bigger and has bold white spots on its wings, a black crown, and a greyish-brown back.

Plumages

The Black-billed Wood-Dove has only one plumage, and there is no significant difference between sexes. However, there are some variations in plumage across their range.

Molts

Like most doves, the Black-billed Wood-Dove molts twice a year – before and after the nesting season. During the prenuptial molt, which usually occurs between December and February, the bird sheds its old feathers and grows new ones.

This process allows the bird to replace its worn-out feathers with new ones, which will help it fly and survive better. After the breeding season, the postnuptial molt takes place, which enables the bird to replace its old feathers and prepare for the winter months.

Conclusion

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a fascinating bird with unique physical characteristics that make it stand out. Its distinct features and beautiful plumage make it an exciting find for bird enthusiasts who love observing and appreciating the natural beauty of African wildlife.

Understanding the identification and molting characteristics of this dove can help birdwatchers identify and track the bird’s behaviors accurately. , as the article should end in a natural and organic way.

Systematics History

The Black-billed Wood-Dove (Turtur abyssinicus) belongs to the family Columbidae, which includes more than 300 species of pigeons and doves found worldwide. The scientific name Turtur abyssinicus was first used by the German ornithologist Christian Ludwig Brehm in 1856.

Initially, it was classified as a subspecies of Stone’s Dove (Turtur stictocephalus), but it was later recognized as a separate species based on its unique physical characteristics and vocalizations.

Geographic Variation

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is distributed across various parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Despite its wide distribution, there is little to no geographic variation observed in the species.

The plumage of Black-billed Wood-Doves is consistent throughout the species range, with no distinct differences observed between the populations.

Subspecies

Although there is no geographic variation within the Black-billed Wood-Dove, several subspecies have been recognized in the past. However, these subspecies are no longer considered valid and are now classified under the main species Turtur abyssinicus.

Some of the previously recognized subspecies include:

– Turtur abyssinicus abyssinicus – Found in Ethiopia and northern Somalia. – Turtur abyssinicus clarkei – Found in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.

– Turtur abyssinicus erlangeri – Found in southern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and southeastern South Sudan. – Turtur abyssinicus karamojae – Found in eastern Uganda and western Kenya.

– Turtur abyssinicus rubristectus – Found in southwestern Ethiopia.

Related Species

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is closely related to other species in the genus Turtur, which includes about 14 species found in Africa and Madagascar. These species have similar physical characteristics and vocalizations, making it challenging to distinguish them from each other.

The most closely related species to the Black-billed Wood-Dove is probably the Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria), which also occurs in parts of eastern and southern Africa.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Black-billed Wood-Dove has remained relatively stable across its range, with no significant changes observed in recent decades. However, historical records suggest that the species may have experienced some range contractions and expansions in the past.

During the last glacial maximum, which occurred around 20,000 years ago, much of Africa’s highland regions were covered in ice and snow, making them uninhabitable for many species, including birds. As a result, the Black-billed Wood-Dove and other species that inhabit the highlands of Africa likely retreated to lower elevations or found refuge in pockets of suitable habitat that were not affected by the glacial conditions.

As the climate warmed, and the ice sheets receded, species like the Black-billed Wood-Dove began to recolonize the highlands. However, habitat loss due to human activities, including deforestation, has threatened the species’ survival in some regions.

The ongoing destruction of the forested areas used by the bird for nesting, foraging, and roosting, coupled with the increased use of pesticides, has impacted the populations of Black-billed Wood-Doves in some locations.

Conclusion

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a fascinating bird that has remained relatively stable across its African range, thanks to robust populations and sufficient habitat availability. Although there have been historical changes to the bird’s distribution, particularly during the last glacial maximum, the species has adapted to the changing conditions, and its populations continue to thrive.

However, the ongoing destruction of the bird’s habitat due to human activities remains a significant threat to the species’ survival, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to preserve its populations for future generations. , as the article should end in a natural and organic way.

Habitat

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a forest bird that prefers dense woodland habitats. It can be found in various forest types, including montane forests, lowland rainforests, and gallery forests.

It also inhabits wooded savannas, thickets, and bushy areas near riverbanks, as long as there is sufficient cover present. The dense forest canopy provides cover for the bird, while the underbrush provides a perfect environment for feeding and nesting.

The species is primarily intra-African, with no known range outside the continent. The Black-billed Wood-Dove is often found at elevations of up to 2,500 meters, but it can descend to lower levels, especially during the dry season when food and water are scarce.

The bird requires a mixture of fruit trees, shrubs and other vegetation for foraging and breeding.

Movements and Migration

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is considered a resident bird, meaning that it does not typically migrate to other regions or countries. However, there is some evidence that suggests that the bird may move to lower elevations during the dry season in search of food and water.

During this period, the bird frequently visits water sources, feeding on fruits and other vegetation. The movements of the Black-billed Wood-Dove within a habitat are primarily driven by food availability and accessibility.

The birds will relocate to other parts of their home range in search of suitable food and vegetation when their preferred food sources are scarce.

Breeding

The breeding season of the Black-billed Wood-Dove varies depending on its location. In Ethiopia, the breeding season can start as early as November, while in other regions, it can start as late as January.

The pairs form strong bonds and will often remain together for the rest of their lives. The male will engage in courtship behavior by performing a circular flight, flapping his wings, and cooing loudly.

If the female is receptive, she will respond by taking a submissive posture and allowing the male to mount her. Once the breeding pair has been established, the birds will build a simple stick nest in the trees.

Both parents will participate in building and maintaining the nest. The female will lay one or two eggs, which she incubates for up to 14 days.

The chicks are born altricial, meaning they are born blind and featherless, and rely completely on their parents for food and warmth.

Diet

The Black-billed Wood-Dove primarily feeds on small fruits, nuts, and seeds. The bird’s preferred food sources include fruits from trees such as figs, guavas, and wild olives.

They also eat insects and other small invertebrates. The birds forage on the ground and in the understory of the forest, using their sharp bill to peck at fruits and insects.

Threats

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for

Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, habitat loss and degradation due to deforestation, agricultural expansion, and human settlements are significant threats to the species’ survival.

The continued use of pesticides in farming has also been shown to have negative impacts on the species. Additionally, the bird’s population is vulnerable to hunting and capture for the bird trade in some parts of its range.

Conservation

Conservation efforts aimed at preserving the Black-billed Wood-Dove have mainly focused on habitat conservation and restoration. These efforts include reforestation initiatives, sustainable harvesting practices that prevent excessive logging, and the implementation of conservation agreements with local communities.

Education and public awareness campaigns that promote the species’ conservation and protection are also crucial in ensuring its survival.

Conclusion

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a fascinating bird that is well adapted to the dense forest habitats of Africa. It prefers montane forests and riverine galleries where there is sufficient vegetation and cover.

The bird is a resident species, with limited movements within its home range driven primarily by food availability.

Habitat loss and degradation due to human activities are significant threats to the bird’s survival, making conservation efforts crucial in ensuring its long-term survival.

, as the article should end in a natural and organic way.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is primarily a frugivorous bird, feeding almost exclusively on fruits and seeds. It forages on the ground and in underbrush, using its sharp bill to peck at fruits and insect prey.

The bird is monogamous, and the breeding pair will forage together, usually within their nest territory. The birds predominantly feed during the day, frequently consuming dropped fruits and those that fallen from trees.

Diet

The Black-billed Wood-Dove consumes a wide variety of fruits from trees such as figs, guavas, and various wild olive species. It also feeds on small foliage and flowers, as well as insects and other small invertebrates.

These birds primarily consume fruits that provide high protein content such as fruits like Ficus, and Subclass Ribes. The Black-billed Wood-Dove also feeds on fallen seeds following weather conditions.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Black-billed Wood-Dove’s diet is high in carbohydrates but low in proteins and fats; therefore, it requires a particular diet that caters to this macronutrient deficiency. Due to this diet, the bird’s metabolic rate and basal temperature are low.

Like most birds, the Black-billed Wood-Dove relies on a thermal response to maintain stability, a system that is effective in minimizing energy expenditure.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a vocal bird that often makes a variety of low pitched vocalizations. The voice can be described as a low, rhythmic, and mournful coo.

The specific coo sounds are repeated many times creating a melodic and soothing effect. The call note is a soft, quiet cooing sound that the bird also uses as an alarm call.

The birds’ vocalizations are primarily used to signal a breeding pair or to announce their territory. When threatened, the birds also make a series of hissing sounds, chukking and growling sounds.

, as the article should end in a natural and organic way.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is primarily a ground-dwelling bird that occasionally flies short distances. When threatened, the bird will quickly take flight and seek refuge in the treetops.

The dove spends most of its time slowly moving along the ground in search of food, using a shuffling gait to move through the underbrush.

Self-Maintenance

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a clean bird that devotes a considerable amount of time to preening its feathers. The birds are meticulous about their feather cleaning regimen; using their beak, they clean and arrange their feathers carefully.

These birds have a specialized gland near the base of the tail that produces an oil that helps to waterproof their feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

Although the Black-billed Wood-Dove is generally a peaceful bird, it can become aggressive towards its own kind during the breeding season. Males will engage in combat to deter rivals for their females.

Sexual Behavior

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a highly territorial bird, fiercely defending its territory against intruders. During the breeding season, males will court females by performing a circular flight, flapping their wings, and cooing loudly.

Females will respond by taking a submissive posture, which will allow the males to mount them. Both male and female birds will help in building the nest, incubating the eggs, and feeding the chicks once they hatch.

Breeding

The Black-billed Wood-Dove typically breeds once a year, at the start of the rainy season. The breeding season varies depending on the bird’s range, but it generally falls between November and February.

The birds form strong pair bonds, with the male and female remaining together until one of them dies. Before breeding, the male wood-dove will court the female through elaborate courtship displays involving wing flapping, tail spreading, and cooing vocalizations.

Once a breeding pair is formed, they will select a suitable site and cooperatively construct a simple stick nest in the trees. The female will lay one or two eggs, which incubate for up to 14 days.

After hatching, the chicks are fed by the parents and remain in the nest for around two weeks before fledging.

Demography and Populations

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is widespread and considered relatively common across its range, and there are no significant threats to its populations at this stage. While the bird’s population size is unknown, the species has been assessed as being of Least Concern by the International Union for

Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, the ongoing destruction of the bird’s habitat due to human activities remains a significant threat to the species’ survival. As such, continued monitoring of the populations’ demographics and general trends is necessary to keep track of any possible threats to the bird.

The Black-billed Wood-Dove is a fascinating bird species found in various parts of Africa, primarily inhabiting dense woodland habitats. It feeds almost exclusively on fruits and seeds, and is well-adapted to its environment, exhibiting unique characteristics such as a low metabolic rate.

The bird is also highly vocal during the breeding season, with males engaging in elaborate courtship displays to attract females. While the species remains relatively stable across its range, habitat loss and degradation due to human activities are significant threats to its survival.

As such, conservation efforts aimed at preserving the bird’s habitat, coupled with public awareness and education campaigns, are crucial in ensuring its long-term survival for future generations to enjoy.

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