Namaqua Dove

Oena capensis

The small (40g) Namaqua Dove with its characteristically long tail feathers (total length including the tail is around 22cm) inhabits dry savannas, grasslands and scrub, where it forages on the open ground almost exclusively for the tiny seeds of a wide variety of grasses and other plants. Unlike many other species of pigeon and dove, the Namaqua Dove does not have a close relationship with human habitation. They are highly nomadic, moving after the flush of seeds that follow periods of good rainfall in different areas.

Normally seen alone, in pairs or small flocks (rarely larger aggregations of several hundred form at waterholes), Namaqua Doves form monogamous pairs. They breed throughout the year, constructing flimsy platforms of twigs and roots low in a tree or shrub. Pairs share the responsibility of incubating the clutch of 1or 2 eggs for a period of about two weeks. The chicks leave the nest when they’re about 2 weeks old.

The Namaqua Dove is widely distributed over continental Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula. The IUCN considers it to be of least concern, adding that it seems to be growing its population and expanding its range. In South Africa they’ve been recorded from almost every corner of the country, though their nomadic habits means that they are not necessarily always resident in any particular area.

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16 thoughts on “Namaqua Dove

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      In my recollection Natal is now much drier in climate than it was two or three decades ago, and perhaps that’s why they are able to expand their range into your part of the world?

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I think the name creates the impression that they’re restricted to arid areas, which explains our surprise at having seen them in such (relatively) lush environments as Ithala and Hluhluwe!

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