Appearance There are 11 species of Doves and 7 species of Pigeon regularly found in Kenya. These are plump birds with small heads and pointed wings that enable them to be fast fliers, with noisy wing-beats. All have fleshy, bare ceres at the top of their bills. Three Doves are difficult to identify; those with black collars. See my blog post for the three that fall into this category, to aid identification.
Habits Doves and Pigeons are generally monogamous (having only one partner). They all use sticks, twigs and grass to construct their nests, although there are a vast variety of locations selected. They all lay an average of two eggs and incubation is approximately 2 weeks. The chicks are fed 'Pigeon milk' in their early days; a substance created by both parents in their crops.
Diet The Pigeons with green plumage (Treron) eat fruit hanging from trees. The other Pigeons (Columba) are also often seen in fruiting trees, but also feed on the ground. Doves mostly feed on the ground. Large numbers of all this family congregate at food sources and watering places. Most Doves and Pigeons eat seed or fruit, but will also turn carnivore and take insects too.
Resident Doves and Pigeons are found throughout Kenya, usually below 3,200 metres, so long as there are both water and food sources. All are residents and migration is rare, beyond chicks finding new territories.
Extra Dove & Pigeon Facts All species in this family have distinctive calls that are useful in identification. The green (Treron) Pigeons have sharp calls, while most others in the family 'coo' gently. This family have evolved a thick coating of feathers on their backs, easily detached, perhaps as a defense mechanism against aerial predators. Doves and Pigeons, along with Sandgrouse, unlike all other birds, drink water without raising their beaks. This family are gifted navigators over unfamiliar ground. Pigeons have historically been used by man to carry messages and in 'racing'.
Photographs Photographed at Kenya's Lake Baringo, Meru NP, Nairobi NP, Olare Orok Conservancy and Tsavo East NP.