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African Green Pigeon

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Is the African Green Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: African Green-Pigeon; Green Pigeon; African Fruit Pigeon; Fruit Pigeon; Bare-faced Green Pigeon; Moshi Green Pigeon

Scientific name: Treron calvus

The basics:
The African Green Pigeon is a beautiful aviary bird for the well-heeled expert who can provide for this exotic beauty's specialized fruit diet. They are quite different from your typical exotic dove. Instead of picking up seeding grasses on the ground, they may be seen performing acrobatics in fruit trees as they reach for their favorite treats. Their color and movements remind many people of parrots.

There are currently considered to be 17 named subspecies of the extremely widespread and diverse African Green Pigeon, which is found in appropriate habitat in virtually all of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Don't look for them on the ground. They follow fruiting trees, especially figs, and they will be seen feeding in those trees in a variety of upside-down postures.

Appearance:
The African Green Pigeon is well-named, as it's an overall bright green bird with pink or red feet. The sexes are similar, so if you have a “pair” of two birds that look very different, it's possible that you have two different subspecies.

Weight:
240 grams (8.5 oz.)

Average size:
28 - 30 centimeters (11 - 12 in.)

Lifespan:
10 years

Behavior / temperament:
While people have trained their Green Pigeons to fly to them for fruit, they are considered somewhat shy, so don't try to push them too fast. They have a reputation for building an extremely sloppy, minimal nest higher up in a tree. If you notice such a nest, resist the urge to check it or to reinforce it, since they have little energy invested in the project and they can be quick to abandon the effort altogether if they're interfered with.

Housing:
While there may be locals who keep African Green Pigeons in cages in their homeland, it is highly recommended that you maintain an individual or a pair in a large, well-planted aviary tall enough to include some bushes and trees. Because they sometimes hang upside-down to eat fruit, it's also worth positioning a perch above the feeder that allows them to do so. Birds kept in cages have been reported to become really grimy and messy from the fruit juices, destroying the beauty of the plumage that is the whole purpose of keeping the bird. Unlike parrots, they do not destroy the trees and shrubs in their aviary, so you can expect to keep a large set-up looking good for a long time without constantly rotating plants in and out. They should be protected from extreme and, especially, cold weather, so be able to provide heat or to move them into spacious winter quarters.

Diet:
The African Green Pigeon is a fruit-eating species, and a breeder who has experience with softbills will find it easier to feed this bird than someone who comes from a background of breeding seed-eating exotic doves. In the wild, they dine heavily on figs, and the ideal diet would include plenty of figs as well as other soft tropical fruits and berries. Lynn Hall, a fruit dove specialist, has written that old-time dog food based diets resulted in a short life span and much frustration among older fruit dove fanciers. A better diet is heavily based on chopped fruit, with some cooked brown rice, soaked raisin, and a small percentage of a high quality dog food added to the mix.

Written by Elaine Radford

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