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8 Fascinating Facts About Bolle’s Pigeon: A Lesser-Known Arid Region Bird

Birds are fascinating creatures that come in all shapes and sizes. From majestic eagles to tiny hummingbirds, there is no shortage of avian wonders to discover.

One of the lesser-known bird species, Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) is a small and interesting bird that can be found in arid regions of Africa. This article aims to provide an overview of Bolle’s Pigeon and cover topics such as identification, plumage, molts, and similar species.


Field Identification: Bolle’s Pigeon is a small bird that measures approximately 28 cm in length and weighs around 190 g. The bird has a gray head and neck, with a pale neck ring.

The breast, belly, and underparts of its body are a pale pinkish-beige color, which helps distinguish it from other pigeon species that have a darker breast. The wings and tail are a darker gray, and the bird has a small red patch on its rump that is only visible in flight.

Similar Species: Bolle’s Pigeon can be confused with other pigeon species such as the African Mourning Dove and the Namaqua Dove. However, the African Mourning Dove has a darker breast, and the Namaqua Dove is larger in size.

Additionally, Bolle’s Pigeon has a unique red patch on its rump that sets it apart from other pigeon species. Plumages:

Bolle’s Pigeon has distinct plumages that help identify the birds at different stages of their lives.

Juvenile Bolle’s Pigeon has a duller plumage compared to adults. At this stage, the bird’s head and neck are brownish-gray, and the neck ring is less pronounced.

Juvenile Bolle’s Pigeon has a paler breast and underparts, with a brownish tint to their plumage. Adult Bolle’s Pigeon has a unique plumage that is pale pinkish-beige on the breast, belly, and underparts, with a darker gray on the wings and tail.

The head and neck are a lighter gray compared to the body and have a slightly iridescent texture. The neck ring is more pronounced in the adult stage.


Like most pigeon species, Bolle’s Pigeon undergoes two molts each year. The first molt occurs in late summer or early autumn, and the second molt occurs in late winter or early spring.

During the molting period, the bird’s old feathers fall out, making way for new ones. Juvenile birds will go through their first molt in their first summer, while adult birds molt twice a year.


Bolle’s Pigeon is a small and fascinating bird species that can be found in African arid regions. With its distinct plumage and unique red patch on its rump, it is easy to identify in the wild.

Understanding its field identification, plumages, and molts can help birdwatchers appreciate this bird species better. With more knowledge about Bolle’s Pigeon and similar species, bird enthusiasts can enjoy their bird watching experience more.

Systematics History:

The systematics history of Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) has evolved significantly over many years. Initially, it was classified as a member of the Columba genus, which is the same genus as the Common Pigeon.

However, in 1901, Ernst Hartert suggested that Bolle’s Pigeon should be grouped under its own genus, Bolleia. Later, in 1923, Hartert revised the classification and placed Bolle’s Pigeon under its current genus, Columba.

Geographic Variation:

Bolle’s Pigeon has geographic variation in appearance, behavior, and genetics across its distribution range. The species is found in arid regions of Africa, including the Saharan desert, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of East Africa.


There are currently two recognized subspecies of Bolle’s Pigeon. The first subspecies is Columba bollii bollii, which is found in the northern regions of the Sahara desert.

This subspecies is slightly larger in size compared to the second subspecies, and the feathers on its back are darker. The second subspecies is Columba bollii eremita, which is found in the southern regions of the Sahara desert and eastwards to the Arabian Peninsula.

This subspecies is slightly smaller in size, and the feathers on its back are lighter compared to the first subspecies. Related Species:

Bolle’s Pigeon is closely related to other species within the Columba genus, including the Common Pigeon (Columba livia), African Mourning Dove (Streptopelia decipiens), and Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis).

These species share similar physical features, such as their plump bodies and small heads, and also have similar behavior patterns. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The distribution range of Bolle’s Pigeon has undergone significant changes throughout history, primarily due to climatic shifts and human activities that have altered the landscape.

Originally, the species was found across the northern regions of Africa, up to the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, but its range gradually shrank over time. Between the 20th and 21st centuries, Bolle’s Pigeon was listed as a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.

The reduction of natural vegetation cover, combined with the expansion of human settlements, has resulted in a loss of the bird’s natural habitat. Hunting has also played a significant role in their population decline, particularly in North Africa, where they are hunted for food.

However, more recent studies have shown that Bolle’s Pigeon’s range may be expanding. Currently, sightings of Bolle’s Pigeon have been reported in regions where the bird was not previously observed, suggesting a potential range increase.

The reasons behind this potential increase are unclear, but it could be due to natural climate shifts or improved conservation efforts. Conclusion:

In conclusion, Bolle’s Pigeon’s systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species provide a deeper understanding of this fascinating bird species.

The changes in its distribution range highlight the importance of conservation efforts to protect the bird’s natural habitat and prevent further population decline. The potential range increase provides hope for the future, and further research is necessary to understand the reasons behind this trend.

Understanding the history and current status of Bolle’s Pigeon species will enable conservationists and bird enthusiasts to appreciate and protect this unique species of pigeon. Habitat:

Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) is a species of bird that is found in arid regions of Africa.

The bird is adapted to live in desert environments, where they inhabit rocky outcrops, mountains, and lowland semi-desert areas. They are often seen perched on rocks, boulders, and ledges, and their natural habitat is characterized by an arid climate, minimal vegetation cover, and harsh temperature conditions.

Movements and Migration:

Bolle’s Pigeon is a resident bird that does not undertake long-distance migrations. However, within its distribution range, the bird may move around in search of food and water.

During the non-breeding season, the bird may move to lower elevations or areas with better water sources. In North Africa, Bolle’s Pigeon is known to be a partial migrant, with some populations remaining sedentary while others undertake seasonal movements.

The exact timing and extent of their migratory behavior is not well understood and requires further research. The main reason for seasonal movements is to find water sources, which are essential for the survival of the birds in arid environments.

During droughts, Bolle’s Pigeon may congregate near water sources, such as oases or artificial water points. Population movements may also occur in response to food availability.

The bird feeds on seeds, fruits, and insects, and will move to areas with abundant food sources. During times of low food availability, Bolle’s Pigeon may be forced to disperse and search for alternative food sources.

The movements and migration patterns of Bolle’s Pigeon are of interest to conservationists, as changes in their natural habitat can impact their natural movements and behavior. Research suggests that the species has a low dispersal capacity, which makes them more vulnerable to habitat changes.

Any significant changes, such as habitat fragmentation and loss, could affect their populations’ stability and survivability in the long-term. Conservation efforts must consider these factors when developing strategies to protect Bolle’s Pigeon populations.


Bolle’s Pigeon’s habitat and movement patterns are essential aspects of their biology and behavior. They are adapted to thrive in arid environments, where they are adapted to find appropriate food sources and water sources.

While they do not undergo long-distance migrations, the species may move around within their distribution range in response to seasonal patterns, water availability, and food availability. Conservation efforts must carefully consider Bolle’s Pigeon’s movement and habitat preferences to design conservation strategies that adequately protect the species.

The potential impact of habitat changes, fragmentation, and loss on Bolle’s Pigeon populations must be also understood and considered. By understanding these threats, conservationists can take appropriate action to protect this unique and fascinating species of pigeon.

Diet and Foraging:

Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) has a natural diet that consists of a variety of plant materials, including seeds, fruits, and leaves. They supplement their plant-based diet with insects and other small invertebrates.

The bird typically forages for food on the ground but may also seek food sources on trees and shrubs. Feeding:

Bolle’s Pigeon feeds during the day and may form small groups when foraging for food.

The birds may also forage alone or in pairs. When feeding, they will walk or hop on the ground while searching for food items.

The bird’s natural habitat of rocky outcrops and ledges provides abundant opportunities to explore and search for food. Diet:

The exact composition of Bolle’s Pigeon’s diet varies across its range and depends on food availability and geographic location.

For example, birds living in the Saharan desert or Arabian Peninsula may have a more limited diet due to the scarcity of vegetation and limited rainfall. In contrast, birds living in East Africa may have access to a more diverse range of food sources, which include a variety of plant material and insects.

Some of the common food items found in Bolle’s Pigeon’s diet include figs, dates, tamarind, acacia, and grass seeds. The bird may also eat leaves, flowers, and buds, especially when other food sources are scarce.

Insects such as beetles and ants are also an important source of protein for Bolle’s Pigeon. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

Bolle’s Pigeon has adapted to survive in arid environments by regulating its metabolism and body temperature.

The bird has a low metabolic rate, which helps conserve energy when food sources are scarce. They have also developed mechanisms to conserve water, such as excreting uric acid instead of urea, which minimizes water loss.

To regulate their body temperature, Bolle’s Pigeon will move into shaded areas or seek shelter when the temperature rises. They will also fluff their feathers to increase the air trapped between the feathers, which provides a layer of insulation and helps regulate their body temperature.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

Bolle’s Pigeon is a vocal bird that uses a variety of calls to communicate. Their vocalizations include coos, grunts, and hoots, which have different meanings and purposes.


The cooing sound is one of the most recognizable sounds produced by Bolle’s Pigeon. The cooing sound is used to establish territory boundaries, attract mates, and communicate with other members of the flock.

The pitch, tone, and rhythm of the cooing sound may slightly vary between individuals. The grunting sound is produced by both males and females during courtship displays.

The sound is believed to be a sign of aggression and a signal to attract a mate. Finally, the hooting sound is often heard when the bird is perched and observant of its surroundings.

The hooting sound has various meanings, including signaling other birds to come and feed or warning others of a potential threat. Conclusion:

Bolle’s Pigeon’s diet, foraging behavior, metabolism, and vocalizations are fascinating aspects of the bird’s biology and behavior.

Their unique diet and metabolic adaptations help the bird survive in harsh desert environments, where food and water resources can be scarce. Their vocalizations are essential in communicating with other flock members, establishing territory boundaries, and attracting mates.

Understanding these aspects of Bolle’s Pigeon’s biology provides important insights into how the bird adapts and thrives in its natural habitat. Behavior:

Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) exhibits a variety of behaviors that are essential to their survival and success in arid desert environments.


The bird’s locomotion consists of walking or hopping on the ground. They are not strong fliers and will only take to the air when necessary, such as to escape a predator or to move to a new location.


Bolle’s Pigeon is a primarily diurnal bird, and during the day, they will engage in self-maintenance activities such as preening, feather maintenance, and dust-bathing to maintain their plumage and hygiene. Agonistic Behavior:

Agonistic behavior is common among Bolle’s Pigeon, especially during the breeding season when they are competing for mates and territories.

Agonistic behavior may manifest as aggressive displays, such as puffing up feathers, pecking, or chasing away intruders. Displaying dominance is important for established birds as it signals their fitness and breeding potential.

For young birds and newcomers, displaying submission is essential to avoid conflict and potential injury. Sexual Behavior:

During the breeding season, Bolle’s Pigeon will engage in courtship displays that involve vocalizations, dancing, and posturing.

Females typically select males based on their display of dominance and fitness. Males engage in displays that emphasize their size, coloration, and overall fitness to impress females.

Once a pair bond has been established, the birds will mate and work together to defend their territory and raise their offspring. Breeding:

In optimal conditions, Bolle’s Pigeon may breed throughout the year.

However, in harsher environments, breeding may be limited to the rainier months. The breeding season typically lasts from February to July, with the peak occurring in April and May.

Bolle’s Pigeon typically nests on rocky ledges, in rock crevices, or in sheltered areas among boulders. The nest is constructed from sticks and twigs and lined with grass and other soft materials.

Both the male and female birds will contribute to nest building, but the female is primarily responsible for incubation and brooding the eggs. The female typically lays two white eggs, and the incubation period lasts approximately 18-21 days.

After hatching, the chicks are fed crop milk, which is produced from the parents’ crops and provides essential nourishment for the chicks’ growth and development. Both parents will participate in feeding the chicks, and after approximately 25-30 days, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest.

Demography and Populations:

The demography of Bolle’s Pigeon is poorly understood, and there is limited information regarding their population size and structure. The species is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss, hunting, and fragmentation.

The global population is estimated to be between 100,000 to 200,000 individuals. The species is considered locally common in some areas, but populations are declining in some regions, with several populations on the verge of local extinction.

Conservation efforts are necessary to protect Bolle’s Pigeon populations and to gather more information about the bird’s demography, population structure, and conservation needs. Habitat protection, monitoring, and research programs are essential to ensure the long-term survival of this unique and fascinating species of pigeon.


Bolle’s Pigeon’s behavior, breeding, demography, and populations are fascinating aspects of the bird’s biology and behavior. Their complex social behavior during the breeding season, coupled with their unique adaptations to arid environments, make Bolle’s Pigeon an incredibly intriguing species.

However, their populations are declining, and conservation efforts are necessary to ensure their survival. Environmental protection measures must be implemented to address habitat loss and fragmentation, while hunting of the bird must be better regulated to manage detrimental impacts.

Furthermore, research efforts must be increased to gather accurate data on the bird’s breeding, demography, and population structure. In conclusion, understanding Bolle’s Pigeon’s biology, behavior, and population dynamics is essential for preserving this unique and fascinating bird species.

With its adaptations to harsh desert environments and complex social behavior, Bolle’s Pigeon is a species worth protecting. Conservation efforts, research, and monitoring programs are necessary to ensure that Bolle’s Pigeon populations continue to thrive in their natural habitat.

By understanding the bird’s habitats

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