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African Olive-Pigeon
(Columba arquatrix)

African Olive-Pigeon

General description

The male African Olive Pigeon is a large pigeon with maroon back and wings and heavily speckled shoulders with white spots.

The underparts are maroon with heavy white spotting, and the head is grey with yellow patches around the eye and a yellow bill. The neck plumage, used in display, is streaked maroon and white, the underwing and undertail are dark grey, and the feet are yellow.

Females are very similar but somewhat duller.

Juvenile birds have the maroon and grey replaced with dark brown, the bare parts are a dull greenish-yellow, and the wing feathers have pale fringes.

In flight, this pigeon looks very dark. Its flight is quick, with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings which are characteristic of pigeons in general.

The call is a deep, fast and quivering du-du-du-du and krooo notes.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Columba arquatrix

Common names:
African Olive-Pigeon, Rameron, Rameron Pigeon (English)
Geelbekbosduif (Afrikaans)

Roberts VII english name:
African Olive-Pigeon

Roberts VII scientific name:
Columba arquatrix

Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae)

Further information



The African olive pigeon feeds on fruit and berries, mainly picked in the canopy, but it will also descend for fallen fruit and take some insects and caterpillars. In the south of its range, it favours the fruit of a highly invasive plant, the bugweed (Solanum mauritianum).

Birds fly considerable distances from their roosts to feeding areas, and young or non-breeding birds form flocks.

The African olive pigeon builds a large stick nest up to 15 m high in a tree and lays one (rarely two) white eggs. The eggs are incubated for 17–20 days to hatching, and the chicks fledge in another 20 days.

The male has a display consisting of deep bows, and a display flight which consists of a climb, wing clapping, and slow glide down.

Natural distribution:
The African olive pigeon is a resident breeding bird in much of eastern and southern Africa from Ethiopia to the Cape. Populations also are found in western Angola, southwestern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen.

It is locally common, although sizeable gaps in its distribution occur due to its habitat requirements.

This is a species of cool, moist forest canopies above 1,400m altitude, although it occurs locally as low as 700m. It will use mountain fynbos, second growth, and clearings, and feed on agricultural land when not persecuted.

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