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Streptopelia decipiens (African mourning Dove)

Rooioogtortelduif [Afrikaans]; Haikonda (generic term for turtle dove) [Kwangali]; Tuba [Tsonga]; Treurtortel [Dutch]; Tourterelle pleureuse [French]; Angolaturteltaube, Angolalachtaube, Brillentaube [German]; Rola-gemedora [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Columbiformes > Family: Columbidae > Streptopelia

Streptopelia decipiens (African mourning Dove) Streptopelia decipiens (African mourning Dove)

African mourning dove, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]

African mourning dove, Botswana. [photo Tristan Bantock ]

The African mourning dove lives in small areas in the northern half of southern Africa, where it is locally common. It lives in moist savanna, cultivated areas and riverine Acacia woodland. Its diet consists mostly of seeds, with very small amounts of fruit and insects. The female builds a nest of twigs, leaves and roots, the male gathering the material. It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated for 13-14 days (recorded in captivity). The chicks stay in the nest 15-18 days.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forest of West Africa and the DRC. In southern Africa it is locally common in northern Namibia, northern Botswana, southern and northern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers moist lowland savanna, riverine Acacia woodland and cultivated areas surrounding villages. It can also be found in patches of Ana-trees (Faidherbia albida) on flood plains of the Zambezi river.

Distribution of African mourning dove in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


Mainly eats seeds, supplemented with insects and fruit. It typically forages on the ground, in flocks of up to about 30 birds. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds:
      • Panicum (grasses)
      • Tribulus terrestris (Devil's thorn)
      • Giseckia pharnacoides (Volstruisduiwe)
      • Maytenus (silky-barks)
      • Boscia (shepherds-trees)
      • Croton megalobotrys (Fever-berry)
      • Ricinus communis (alien Castor oil bush)
      • sorghum
      • sunflower
      • Salvadora persica (Mustard-tree)
    • fruit
      • Salvadora persica (Mustard-tree)
  • Termite alates


  • The female builds the nest with material collected by the male, consisting of a 15 cm wide bowl, made with twigs, leaves and roots, and typically placed in forks in trees 1.5-15.0 metres above ground.
  • Laying dates are as follows:
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Botswana   x   x   x      
Zimbabwe                 x
Mpumalanga and Limpopo province lowveld           x        
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated for about 13-14 days (recorded in captivity).
  • The chicks stay in the nest for 15-18 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.