Cape Turtle Dove

Streptopelia capicola

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.

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22 thoughts on “Cape Turtle Dove

  1. naturebackin

    Doves are so beautiful and often taken for granted. Oddly we don’t get this dove in our neck of the woods with the red-eyed dove being most common, though they are common in adjacent areas. I also love their call that is so evocative. Your photos convey a lot about their character.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Very odd that they are absent from your area, Carol, when they seem so plentiful elsewhere – perhaps the red-eyed doves are so common that they’re excluding the cape turtle doves from the area?

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      1. naturebackin

        Yes it does seem odd, but perhaps it is habitat related. There is little open grassland here and it is more of a woodland edge type of place and plantation, which perhaps suits the red-eyed doves better.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Most interesting, Miriam, thank you! The migrating birds I’m familiar with breed only at one end of their trek, not at both, and perhaps that holds true in the case of your mourning doves too.

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              1. Miriam Hurdle

                I did have the hummingbird parents and baby around from last June until they parents went south. The papa came back after 3 weeks, mama 3 1/2 weeks. But then I only see the papa once in a while. No sign of mama. Baby stays. Some birds mate for life, as indicated by the nature documentary, but some look for new partners. I don’t know if mama hummingbird is looking elsewhere!

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                  1. Miriam Hurdle

                    Yes, they keep me company. Papa came by one day tried to teach the baby to feed far away. I didn’t know what happened to the baby and got me worried to death. He came back the next day for one visit. The next few days, several visits. Now he is back. It makes me happy. 🙂

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