The African Mourning Dove (Streptopelia decipiens) is a pigeon that is commonly seen throughout the northernmost region of southern Africa. It is native to Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This species is also referred to as the Collared Dove, Mourning Dove and the Mourning Collared Dove.
The African Mourning Dove’s survival depends upon its close proximity to a water source, so it often resides in woodland or savanna areas that have access to a river or ravine. If this species builds its home in a residential area, it is likely to frequent outdoor birdbaths, where it can drink and bathe at its leisure.
The African Mourning Dove is large in size with a solid body, which is quite typical of pigeons. It generally weighs 155-165 cm with an average length of 30 cm. This particular type of pigeon has a distinct appearance, specifically due to the thick black marking with a white border that encompasses the back of its neck. The rest of the African Mourning Dove’s appearance is similar to that of many other birds of its kind. It has a gray head with red eyes, a pink chest, and its back, tail and wings have varying shades of brown and dark gray. The male and female birds of this species are very similar in appearance.
This bird is vocal in nature, emitting a soft and rolling crrrrr-oo-OO-oo. Due to its thick wings and hearty body, this species is sometimes noisy during flight, particularly in taking off. Perhaps due to the high daytime temperatures of its natural habitat, the African Mourning Dove is most active during the morning and evening hours.
The African Mourning Dove forages for food on the ground, where it typically eats seeds, though it occasionally eats grains, fruits and vegetables. Birds of this variety are often seen in pairs or in groups of two to three dozen, as they usually enjoy the company of one another. Some birds prefer to eat alone or in pairs, though this species has a more outgoing and sociable nature, so they can be seen foraging for food in flocks.
A nest made by the African Mourning Dove consists of a combination of sticks and leaves woven together. The male generally gathers the material while the female bird builds the nest in tree branches that are several metres above ground. The female lays one or two white eggs that it nurtures for approximately two weeks before they hatch. Newborn chicks are entirely dependent upon their parents for nourishment and warmth and they remain in the nest under the care of their parents for two or three weeks until they fledge. The feathers of the African Mourning Dove are dull during youth and become more pronounced as the bird matures.