|Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa|
The speckled pigeon (Columba guinea), or (African) rock pigeon, is a pigeon that is a resident breeding bird in much of Africa south of the Sahara. It is a common and widespread species in open habitats over much of its range, although there are sizable gaps in its distribution. It is sometimes referred to as a Guinea Pigeon due to its similar coloring to some species of guineafowl.
In 1743 the English naturalist George Edwards included a description and a picture of the speckled pigeon in his A Natural History of Uncommon Birds. His drawing was made from two live birds at the home the Duke of Richmond in London. Edwards was told that the pigeons had been brought from the inland region of Guinea in West Africa. When in 1758 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the tenth edition, he placed the speckled pigeon with all the other pigeons in the genus Columba. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Columba guinea and cited Edwards's work.
There are two recognised subspecies:
- C. g. guinea Linnaeus, 1758 – Mauritania to Ethiopia south to Democratic Republic of the Congo and north Malawi
- C. g. phaeonota Gray, GR, 1856 – southwest Angola to Zimbabwe and South Africa
This is a large pigeon at 41 cm in length. Its back and wings are rufous, the latter heavily speckled with white spots. The rest of the upperparts and underparts are blue-grey, and the head is grey with red patches around the eye. The neck is brownish, streaked with white, and the legs are red. Sexes are similar, but immatures are browner than adults and lack the red eye patches. The call is a loud doo-doo-doo.
Behaviour and ecology
The speckled pigeon is frequently seen around human habitation and cultivation. Most of its food is vegetable, and it gathers in large numbers where grain or groundnuts are available. This species builds a large stick nest on protected rocky outcrops and in urban areas often atop covered pergola pillars and on flat roofs under deep eaves and lays two white eggs. Its flight is quick, with regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings that are characteristic of pigeons in general.
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
- BirdLife International (2012). "Columba guinea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)old-form url
- Edwards, George (1743). A Natural History of Uncommon Birds. London: Printed for the author, at the College of Physicians. p. 75.
- Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 163.
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- (Rock Pigeon = ) Speckled Pigeon - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.