Areena Birders Corner – The African Green Pigeon

Areena Birders Corner November 2018

 The African Green Pigeon

This month’s article of Birders Corner focuses on one of the amazing ‘paint jobs’ of our indigenous birds, the African Green Pigeon.  Because of its colour and habits, it’s one of the more difficult birds to observe let alone to capture on film as they occur in the leafy foliage of trees matching the colour of their plumage.  However, when they are spotted, there are a number of colourful peculiarities that set them apart from other pigeons.

They have bright aquamarine blue eyes, which is a rarity in the bird world. They have a yellow lower belly and pantaloons that end with bright orange feet.  They have a grey mantle and shoulders that fade into a bright green. The wings have dark lilac carpal patches, while the underwing is grey. In flight the under tail coverts are a rufous colour edged with white as well as black and white stripes traversing its length.  The base of bill and gape, adjoining the head, are red with a grey/white tip.

They are very nomadic and follow the fruiting of deciduous trees that form the basis of their dietary preferences.  For this reason they follow migratory patterns that can cover vast distances to wherever the ripe fruit is in season.  Their eating habits can also be considered as strange, as they can hang upside down or walk ‘parrot style’ along a branch to pluck the fruit.

The flesh of the numerous indigenous fig trees, mulberries, yellow-wood berries, sour plums etc., form the basis of their diet, they do not normally eat the nuts or kernels of the fruit. The occasional caterpillar or worm found among the foliage may also be eaten.

These pigeons occur in flocks that vary greatly in number, anywhere between four to thirty birds.  They are also naturally very skittish and nervous when feeding and when ‘spooked’ they fly off rapidly with their wings making a whistling noise.

Their call is also very difficult to put into words and for this reason the description given in Roberts Multimedia VII is quoted.  The call is “20 high-pitched, fluty, whistling trills, followed by lower-pitched, harsh creaking, barking and growling notes, ending in 3 popping clicks. Lasts 5-15 sec; may be repeated several times/min, with variable numbers of trills. Birds in a perched group sometimes sing in chorus.”