The Tambourine Dove

23rd June 2010

Distribution: This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 7,400,000 km. The Tambourine Dove occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Kenya and Uganda, south to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, the Limpopo province and large areas of the east coast of South Africa, from KwaZulu-Natal to the Western Cape. There is a population on the Comoros Islands. It is absent from the drier areas of south-western Africa

Status: The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'common' in at least parts of its range. Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Habitat: The Tambourine Dove is a widespread resident breeding bird in woodlands and other thick vegetation over its range of distribution. It generally prefers riverine woodland and evergreen forest, often occupying coastal forest in the Western and Eastern Capes. It is also commonly found in dense gardens and plantations of castor oil, cocoa and rubber.

General habits: The Tambourine Dove is usually solitary but is sometimes seen in family groups or in association with Lemon Doves.

This shy species is quite terresterial and is usually seen when flushed whilst foraging on the forest floor for seeds and small fruits.

The Tambourine Dove’s flight is fast and agile, and it tends to stay quite low when flushed. In flight it shows chestnut primary flight feathers and under wings.

Feeding habits: The Tambourine Dove usually forages on the ground. It eats a variety of fruit, seeds, grasses, and occasionally invertebrates (notably termites and small molluscs). It has a preference for seeds of the castor oil plant.

Breeding habits: Egg-laying season is from about September toMay.

Nest: Both partners construct the nest, which is a fragile saucer made of twigs, leaves and petioles. The male collects material and hands it to the female, who then adds it to the structure. It is usually placed low among the tangled branches of a creeper, in a bush or tree, often in vegetation next to rivers.

Eggs: The Tambourine Dove lays two cream-coloured eggs. She does most of the incubation, though the male helps. The eggs hatch in 17-20 days.

Young: The chicks are brooded constantly for the first few days of their lives, staying in the nest for about 19-22 days. They are fed about four times a day by both parents, who regurgitate food previously eaten. The juvenile resembles the female but has chestnut fringes to the feathers of the back, breast and flanks.

Call: The Tambourine Dove's call is a persistently repeated "du-du-du-du-du".

Description:. The Tambourine Dove is a small plump pigeon, typically 22cm in length. The male has a white face with a black spot behind the eye, white underparts and a grey crown. Its back, hind neck, wings and tail are pale grey brown, and the folded wings have large dark purple patches. The under tail is brown. The eye ring and feet are purple-red, and the bill is purple.

The female is duller, and is white only on the belly, the face and breast being a pale grey-brown. The crown is grey-brown, without the blue-grey of the male.

This species is paler below than other small African doves.

Did you know: Turtur is a small genus of Doves native to Sub-Saharan Africa . It includes 5 species:

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur chalcospilos
Black-billed Wood Dove, Turtur abyssinicus
Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Turtur afer
Tambourine Dove, Turtur tympanistria
Blue-headed Wood Dove, Turtur brehmeri

The Tambourine Dove is also called: Witborsduifie [Afrikaans]; Isavu [Xhosa]; isiBhelu, isiKhombazane-sehlathi [Zulu]; Xivhambalana (generic term for dove) [Tsonga]; Tamboerijnduif [Dutch]; Tourtelette tambourette [French]; Tamburintaube [German]; Rola-de-papo-branco [Portuguese]