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Speckled Pigeon

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Is the Speckled Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Triangular Spotted Pigeon; Red-Eyed Pigeon; Cape Rock Pigeon

Scientific name: Columba guinea

The basics:
A familiar bird of South Africa, the wild Speckled Pigeon is bold and will often approach human dwellings or even crops, but the captive pairs may be a little shy about being confined and will need to be handled with respectful gentleness. The sexes are much the same, so you will probably need to sex them based on behavior or a DNA test.

There are two subspecies of this widespread pigeon found across a huge range in Africa. The more northerly, nominate subspecies, C. g. guinea , is more common in captivity in the United States. The more southerly subspecies is C. g. phaeonota.. They seem to be adapted to life on the sides of rocky mountains and cliffs – an adaptation that has apparently benefited them in urban areas, where a skyscraper can stand in for a cliff.

Appearance:
The striking Speckled Pigeon is a large stocky dove with rusty red wings sprinkled with bold white triangular spots. The red eye patch on the gray face gives this species an alert, big-eyed look.

Weight:
350 grams (12 oz.)

Average size:
33 centimeters (13 in.)

Lifespan:
10 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Speckled Pigeon is viewed by birders as bold and confiding, a bird that allows humans to get close. In captivity, it is far more cautious. Give it room, and do not interfere with a nesting project or the birds may give up on it. Some breeders will foster the eggs or babies to a domestic pigeon variety known to make devoted parents, such as the Homer Racing Pigeon.

Housing:
Despite its boldness at allowing you to get close while you are strolling through a leafy Johannesburg suburb, the Speckled Pigeon may be extremely nervous if it feels confined. Captive pairs have been described as “flighty” or “shy,” especially if they feel they do not have enough space. One breeder has reported success in a very large mixed-species dovecote, where these large pigeons could benefit from observing the calm of other birds. However, you do have to watch out, to make sure that a breeding pair doesn't become too aggressive toward its companions. They will attack, and they can kill, if they feel that their breeding territory is being infringed upon by another pigeon. Most experts strongly recommend that you house your pair of Triangular Spotted Pigeons in their own, very spacious, flight.

Diet:
A close relative of the Rock Pigeon, Columba livia, the handsome Speckled Pigeon thrives on a similar diet. You may choose a high quality commercial dove mix, although some breeders mix wild bird seed mix plus safflower. But you also need to provide some variety – chopped fruits and vegetables, greens, pellets (perhaps sprinkled with apple juice), and even access to a few live insects can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients. All pigeons need access to grit and calcium. An indoor dove's body may have trouble using the calcium because vitamin D3 is often formed from sunlight. Talk to your vet or breeder about vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Written by Elaine Radford

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