The Cape Turtle Dove, also known as the Ring-necked Dove, is one of South Africa’s most common and widespread birds, occurring in every corner of the country in a wide range if habitats, both natural and man-made. They feed on seeds, fruit and small invertebrates, foraged predominantly on the ground.
Cape Turtle Doves breed throughout the year and the monogamous pairs may raise up to 5 broods annually. They construct flimsy stick platforms for use as nests in which 2-4 eggs are incubated for about two weeks. The chicks are looked after by both parents and leave the nest when they’re about two weeks old, after which they may stay with the parents for as long as three weeks before becoming fully independent. Though they’re mostly seen singly or in pairs the Cape Turtle Dove may congregate in large flocks numbering in the hundreds, especially at waterholes or feeding grounds.
Adult Cape Turtle Doves measure about 27cm in length and weigh around 150g. Their peaceful song is a welcome addition to the playlist in any garden. Apart from South Africa, Cape Turtle Doves are also to be found over all of Africa south of the equator and extending to Ethiopia and Somalia in the north-east. The IUCN lists the species as being of least concern, and it is probably expanding both its distribution and population.