Pigeon Valley

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Hikers in Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley is a Natural Heritage Park and formally declared municipal nature reserve in Durban, South Africa. It is an unusual example of an urban reserve with very high levels of biodiversity. It was established to provide protection for the Natal Elm (Celtis mildbraedii) and other forest giants of the coastal climax forest.[1] Another rare tree that occurs here is Natal Forest Loquat (Oxyanthus pyriformis) which is endemic to the Durban area and to oNgoye Forest. Pigeon Valley is about 11ha in extent, and is situated on the Berea, overlooking Durban Bay. Its unusual north-south orientation may contribute to the biodiversity, with the south-facing slope covered in canopy forest, while the north-facing slope has thorny thickets. An adjoining reservoir, previously part of the reserve, provides a patch of coastal grassland.


Red duiker at Pigeon Valley
Male buff-spotted flufftail in Pigeon Valley, January 2014

The park is home to red duiker and blue duiker. There is a troop of banded mongooses as well as slender and water mongooses. Blue vervet monkeys are constantly present.

Various species of forest birds are found here including; Green Twinspot, Cape White-Eye, Southern Boubou, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Purple-crested Turaco and African Paradise-Flycatcher. The Black Sparrowhawk breeds here annually. Another bird that is seldom seen but that is generally present is Buff-spotted Flufftail.[2] Unusual sightings of note in recent years include European Nightjar, Knysna Warbler, Lemon Dove, Mountain Wagtail, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Common Scimitarbill, Palm-nut Vulture and Knysna Turaco. The current bird list for Pigeon Valley includes 158[3] species.

The Spotted Ground-Thrush is of particular note, as Pigeon Valley is one of the places where this endangered bird can be most reliably found in winter. It arrives typically in late March or early April, and is present until August or September; in 2015 it was present until 5 October. Summer migrants include, occasionally, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo and Red-backed Shrike.

Bird list for Pigeon Valley
Number Family Species Status Notes
1 Apalis Barthroated Breeding resident
2 Apalis Yellow-breasted Breeding resident
3 Barbet Black-collared Breeding resident Recent decline in numbers
4 Barbet White-eared Breeding resident Increasing in number
5 Barbet Crested Occasional visitor
6 Batis Cape Breeding resident
7 Batis Chinspot Breeding resident
8 Bee-eater Little Occasional visitor
9 Boubou Southern Breeding resident
10 Brownbul Terrestrial Breeding resident
11 Bulbul Dark-capped Breeding resident
12 Bunting Goldenbreasted Occasional visitor April 1992, 30 March 2013
13 Bush-Shrike Gorgeous Rare visitor Recorded 2007
14 Bush-Shrike Greyheaded Occasional visitor 2012; winter 2014
15 Bush-Shrike Olive Occasional visitor Spring 2014, Winter 2017
16 Bush-Shrike Orange-breasted Occasional visitor Not seen 2012-2017
17 Camaroptera Green-backed Breeding resident
18 Canary Brimstone Regular visitor
19 Canary Yellow-fronted Regularly present
20 Cisticola Zitting Rare visitor April 2015; first sighting in recent years
21 Coucal Burchell's Occasional visitor August 2015; winter of 2016
22 Crested-Flycatcher Bluemantled Rare visitor Female present 2014-6
23 Crow Pied Occasional visitor
24 Cuckoo Black Occasional summer visitor
25 Cuckoo Diderik Regular summer visitor
26 Cuckoo Emerald Occasional summer visitor
27 Cuckoo Common Rare visitor Record from 1979
28 Cuckoo Jacobin Rare visitor October 2016
29 Cuckoo Klaas's Breeding resident Breeding 2014
30 Cuckoo Redchested Occasional summer visitor Juvenile February 2015
31 Cuckooshrike Black Occasional visitor Mainly winter
32 Cuckooshrike Grey Occasional visitor Mainly winter
33 Dove Redeyed Breeding resident
34 Dove Laughing Breeding resident
35 Dove Rock Occasional visitor
36 Dove Tambourine Breeding resident
37 Dove Lemon Rare visitor Seen 2012
38 Drongo Forktailed Breeding resident
39 Drongo Squaretailed Breeding resident
40 Duck White-faced Infrequent visitor November 2017
41 Eagle African Crowned Occasional visitor January 2014, 2016, 2017
42 Eagle-Owl Spotted Occasional visitor
43 Falcon Lanner Occasional visitor
44 Firefinch African 7
45 Firefinch Red-billed Breeding resident First sighting January 2015; now established
46 Flufftail Buffspotted Breeding resident Seen regularly
47 Flycatcher Ashy Breeding resident
48 Flycatcher Dusky Breeding resident
49 Flycatcher Fiscal Regular winter visitor
50 Flycatcher Spotted Uncommon summer visitor Present late 2014
51 Flycatcher Southern Black Breeding resident
52 Goshawk African Breeding resident
53 Greenbul Sombre Breeding resident
54 Greenbul Yellowbellied Occasional visitor Often present in winter and spring
55 Ground-Thrush Spotted Regular migrant April to September; November 2014; January 2016
56 Hamerkop Occasional visitor
57 Harrierhawk African Regular visitor
58 Hawk African Cuckoo Rare visitor Present June 2014
59 Heron Black-headed Occasional visitor
60 Hobby Eurasian Rare visitor March 2015
61 Honeybird Brownbacked Occasional visitor
62 Honey-Buzzard European Rare visitor First sighting January 2015
63 Honeyguide Greater Rare visitor Not seen in recent years
64 Honeyguide Lesser Usually present
65 Honeyguide Scalythroated Occasional visitor
66 Hoopoe African Occasional visitor
67 Hornbill Crowned Rare visitor 2015
68 Hornbill Trumpeter Rare visitor 2011
68 Ibis Hadeda Breeding resident
69 Kingfisher Brownhooded Breeding resident
70 Kingfisher Mangrove Rare visitor 2011, March 2016, 8 October 2017
71 Kingfisher Pygmy Occasional visitor
72 Kite Yellowbilled Breeding migrant
73 Malkoha Green Infrequent visitor 2010, 2017-8
74 Mannikin Bronze Breeding resident
75 Mannikin Redbacked Breeding resident
76 Martin Rock Occasional visitor
77 Mousebird Speckled Breeding resident
78 Myna Common Frequent visitor
79 Nightjar European Rare visitor 2013; 2014 18 December 2014
80 Nightjar Fierynecked Occasional visitor
81 Oriole Blackheaded Breeding resident
82 Owl Barn Record from 1979
83 Palm-Swift African Regularly present
84 Paradise-Flycatcher African Breeding resident
85 Parakeet Rose-ringed Regular visitor
86 Pigeon Green Record from 1979
87 Prinia Tawnyflanked Breeding resident
88 Puffback Blackbacked Breeding resident
89 Pygmy-Kingfisher African Occasional visitor
90 Quelea Red-billed Rare visitor December 2017
91 Robin White-Starred Rare visitor Not seen in recent years
92 Robin-Chat Redcapped Breeding resident
93 Robin-Chat Cape Occasional visitor Mainly winter
94 Robin-Chat Chorister Occasional visitor Mainly winter
95 Saw-wing Black Regular visitor
96 Scimitarbill Common Rare visitor 11 November 2016
97 Scrub-Robin White-browed Breeding resident
98 Seedeater Streaky-headed Breeding resident
99 Shrike Fiscal Occasional visitor
100 Shrike Red-backed Infrequent summer visitor Present Nov 2015
101 Sparrow Southern Greyheaded Occasional visitor
102 Sparrow House Occasional visitor
103 Sparrowhawk Little Occasional visitor
104 Sparrowhawk Black Breeding resident
105 Spurfowl Natal Occasional visitor
106 Starling Blackbellied Breeding resident
107 Starling Violetbacked Occasional summer visitor
108 Starling Redwinged Regularly present
109 Starling Glossy Breeding resident
110 Stonechat African Rare visitor Not seen in recent years
111 Stork Woollynecked Occasional visitor
112 Sunbird Grey Breeding resident
113 Sunbird Amethyst Breeding resident
114 Sunbird Olive Breeding resident
115 Sunbird Purplebanded Regular visitor Winter
116 Sunbird Collared Breeding resident
117 Sunbird Whitebellied Breeding resident
118 Swallow Barn Regular visitor Summer
119 Swallow Lesser-striped Regular visitor
120 Swallow Whitethroated Occasional visitor
121 Swift Black Rare visitor
122 Swift Whiterumped Occasional visitor
123 Swift Little Regularly present
124 Swift Palm Regularly present
125 Swift Alpine Rare visitor Not seen in recent years
126 Tchagra Southern Rare visitor 2017
127 Thrush Olive Winter visitor Present March 2014
128 Tinkerbird Redfronted Occasional visitor October 2017
129 Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped Breeding resident
130 Tit Southern Black Breeding resident
131 Trogon Narina Occasional visitor
132 Turaco Knysna Rare visitor September 1991; 1 October 2017
133 Turaco Purple-crested Breeding resident
134 Twinspot Green Regular visitor Breeding record 2014
135 Vulture Palm-nut Rare visitor 22 October 2017
136 Wagtail Cape Occasional visitor
137 Wagtail Mountain Rare visitor Seen once in 1990s, again in 2013
138 Warbler Barratt's Infrequent winter visitor June 2014, 2017
139 Warbler Garden Rare visitor Present winter 2015
140 Warbler Knysna Rare visitor Seen and recorded 20th August 2017
141 Warbler Marsh Summer visitor Several 2017-8
142 Warbler Willow Rare summer visitor December 2014
143 Wattle-eye Black-throated Rare visitor 2013; present in 2015
144 Waxbill Common Regular visitor
145 Waxbill Grey Breeding resident
146 Weaver Yellow Rare visitor Winter 2015
147 Weaver Darkbacked Breeding resident
148 Weaver Village Breeding resident
149 Weaver Spectacled Regularly present
150 Weaver Thickbilled Breeding resident
151 White-eye Cape Breeding resident
152 Wood-Hoopoe Green Regular visitor
153 Woodland-Warbler Yellowthroated Rare visitor, winter 13 August 2016
154 Woodpecker Goldentailed Breeding resident
155 Woodpecker Cardinal Breeding resident
156 Woodpecker Olive Rare visitor 2009, 2017
157 Wydah Pin-tailed Irregular visitor 2015, 2017


A Natal elm, showing its extensive buttressing, Pigeon Valley, May 2013

There are over 110 species of trees occurring in Pigeon Valley, almost all of which are locally indigenous.[4] Pigeon Valley is also notable for large stands of Buckweed (Isoglossa woodii) which grow in more open areas under the forest canopy and in forest glades. In recent years there have been a few discoveries of plants not previously identified.

Pigeon Valley is unique in having large numbers of the rare Natal Elm, and of Natal Forest Loquat. A Cryptocarya specimen found adjacent to the main track has so far not been definitively identified; it may be a species seldom found in the area or alternatively a hybrid.

A Spotted Ground-Thrush, a migrant to the urban reserve, Pigeon Valley, Durban

Public access[edit]

The reserve is open from 07:30 to 16:00 daily throughout the year. The entrance is in Princess Alice Avenue, Glenwood, opposite Rhodes Avenue.


An active grouping, Friends of Pigeon Valley, undertakes clearing of invasive alien plants, ensuring that the park is unusually free of alien species. It also liaises with the municipal managers of the reserve to address relevant issues. The Friends operate a monthly walk open to the public on the second Saturday of each month, at 07h30. There is a Facebook page, Friends of Pigeon Valley, at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfPigeonValley/.

See also[edit]



  • Pooley, T. and Player, I. (1995). KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Destinations. ISBN 1-86812-487-8.

Coordinates: 29°51′52″S 30°59′19″E / 29.86444°S 30.98861°E / -29.86444; 30.98861