Lee Richardson Zoo

Speckled Pigeon

Order:  Columbiformes - pigeons and doves

Family:  Columbidae - pigeons and doves

Scientific Name:  Columba guinea


DescriptionThe speckled pigeon is a medium-sized bird with a small head, short beak, and short legs.  Adults are 16 inches long.  The head and underparts are bluish gray, and red or purple skin forms a ring around each eye.  There is a chestnut collar around the neck.  The back is dark reddish purple, and the tail is black with a pale gray bar.  The wings are dark slate, and most of the wing feathers are tipped with white, so that the wing has a speckled appearance when closed.  Males and females look alike.


Home Range:  Sub-Saharan Africa


Habitat Type:  A variety of habitat types in open country.  This includes savanna, open woodland, and gardens.  This species is also moving into urban areas.


Reproduction:  Speckled pigeons breed year round in most of their range.  They prefer to breed in pairs or small groups.  After a pair is formed, the male may invite his new partner into a potential nest site by crouching down, lowering his head, and twitching his wings while vocalizing.  The pair builds a nest on a cliff, in a tree, or on a building.  The nest can be a simple scrape, a few twigs, or a large platform of twigs, and it can be lined with smaller twigs or grass.  They lay 2 eggs per clutch.  Incubation lasts 14-18 days, depending on location.  Both partners help to incubate the eggs.  Males usually incubate during the morning and afternoon, while females incubate during the evening and overnight.  After the chicks hatch, they are fed crop-milk, a nutritious food produced in the crops of both parents.  Several days after hatching, the chicks begin to eat small pieces of food brought by the parents.  They fledge in 20-25 days.


Diet in the Wild:  Mostly seeds and cultivated grains.  They occasionally eat snails.


Diet in the Zoo:  Soft-billed bird diet, small bird maintenance, minced fruits and vegetables.


General Information:  Speckled pigeons are ground-feeding birds.  They are gregarious when they are not breeding, and they can be seen in feeding flocks of up to 700 birds.  When they are not foraging, they spend most of their time maintaining their feathers, preening frequently to remove parasites and flaked-off pieces of feathers.  They also bathe in the rain, spreading their tail and wing feathers, and fluffing up other feathers so that rain can reach the skin.  Some speckled pigeons roost on offshore islands, and make flights of 5-6 miles to feed on the mainland each day.  They are strong and quick fliers, and are know to quickly run on the ground.  Their voice is a series of deep double coos. They can be found associating with common pigeons, especially in urban parts of South Africa.


Conservation Status:  Speckled pigeons are common in many parts of their range.  They adapt well to man-made environments, and some populations are increasing as they move into urban areas. 


PredatorsNo information found.



A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa.  1985.  J.G. Williams and N. Arlott.  Collins, London.  p. 94.


A Field Guide to the Birds of West Africa.  1984.  W. Serle, G.H. Morel, and W. Hartwig.  Collins, London.  p. 93.


Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 4.  1997.  Ed. J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal.  Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.  p. 60-111, 114.


World Wide Website, Oakland Zoo website