It is always a delight to see an African green pigeon. Not because they are particularly rare, but because they are the only green pigeons in the southern African region and their grey and brown cousins are relatively drab by comparison!


Although they occur through large areas of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal southwards, the range of the African green pigeon within the southern African region is limited to the wetter north and east. They frequent dense wooded areas, such as riparian and other forests, particularly where there are fig trees; figs being their staple diet.

African green pigeons are fairly large birds, as pigeons go, with a length of approximately 28 cm. The sexes are alike both in size and plumage colouration. Overall they are green or greyish-green, with lilac carpal patches and bright yellow leggings. Their bills are red with a white tip; feet are red and eyes are bluish-white.

As mentioned, African green pigeons eat mainly fruit, and in particular figs, but they also eat seeds. They generally feed in the high canopies of fruit trees where their colour provides a measure of camouflage, and seldom descend to the ground. Their call is a high pitched trill followed by a series of grunts and they are gregarious when not breeding, gathering into small flocks.

African green pigeons are monogamous and they build a flimsy platform-like nest high up in a leafy tree. The female lays one or two eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 14 days.

The scientific binomial for the African green pigeon is Treron colvus; Treron from the Greek for “timid or shy”, and colvus from the Latin for “hairless”. Thus the name describes a timid, hairless bird. Well, the African green pigeon is certainly timid and shy, but I have no idea why it should be referred to hairless, which I would have thought is a characteristic of all birds.

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