Learn More about Cape Turtle Doves

The Cape Turtle Dove is famed for various names—the Ring-necked Dove, Half-collared Dove, and its binomial name Streptopelia capicola. This dove species is indigenous in southern and eastern Africa. It is known for its striking black patch of feathers at the back of its neck.

This dove species was first described by Swedish zoologist and doctor Carl Jakob Sundevall in 1857. The Cape Turtle Dove is under the Columbidae family, a group of stout-bodied pigeons and doves. The family consists of 344 species, including Rock Pigeons, Crested Pigeons, Dodos, and Blue-headed Quail Doves. Various Streptopelia species such as the African Collared Dove, Vinaceous Dove, and Barbary Dove share most of the Cape Turtle Dove’s physical characteristics.

Cape Turtle Doves are mostly sedentary birds commonly found in open habitats. Its general population occupies a broad range and is on a continuous, stable rise. For this reason, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classified this bird species as Least Concern.

The Cape Turtle Dove has six subspecies with different plumage shades.

  1. c. capicola – found in southwestern South Africa
  2. c. abunda – found in central South Africa
  3. c. damarensis – located in the arid interior of southern African region
  4. c onguati – found in western Namibia and Angola
  5. c. tropica – lives in subtropical and tropical woodland areas from South Sudan to South Africa
  6. c. somalica – thrives in northern Tanzania to Somalia and Ethiopia

Its seven levels of scientific classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Columbiformes

Family: Columbidae

Genus: Streptopelia

Species: S. capicola

The physical characteristics of a Cape Turtle Dove

Both male and female Cape Turtle Doves share the same physical appearance, although a male bird is slightly bigger in size. An adult Cape Turtle Dove grows fro 25 to 26.5 cm in length and weighs from 92-188 g.

Its eyes and bill are pure black, while its feet are dark purple or pinkish. Its body feathers have a darker shade on the upper side—with dull tones of brown, grey, and shades of lavender on the nape. The black band of feathers is located on the lower neck. The plumage appears paler on the lower side with hints of pinkish lavender. Its lower belly and undertail coverts are pale white.

This bird species possesses white fringes and grey tail feathers with white tips, creating a beautiful pattern and making them conspicuous during flight. Its tail pattern is more pronounced during a display flight.

The distribution and habitat of Cape Turtle Doves

Cape Turtle Doves are present in the eastern and southern parts of Africa. It is widely present in various habitats, including Boscia and Acacia savanna, woodland areas, farmlands, open plantations, alien acacia thickets, and semi-desert scrubs. Dry, waterless areas like the dune fields and gravel plains of Namibia are not suitable for them.

The behavior and habits of Cape Turtle Doves

Cape Turtle Doves usually forage alone or in pairs, although sometimes, they congregate in large flocks around abundant sources of food and water. When in flocks, they create a variety of calls throughout the day and sometimes during the night. They emit extraordinary callings as if they were saying “work haaarder, work haaaarder” in the morning, and “drink laaaaager, drink laaaaager” in the evening.

Cape Turtle Doves are monogamous and territorial nesters. Male and female birds perform courtship displays before they breed. The female Cape Turtle Dove is responsible for building a nest, which takes it two to three days to assemble. The leaves, twigs, and other materials around the area are carefully picked and delivered by the male to the nesting site, situated above the ground on tree forks. This location makes the nest vulnerable to various predators such as snakes, birds, and eastern grey squirrels.

A female Cape Turtle Dove lays two creamy-white eggs per clutch, which are incubated by the male and female parents for an average of 15 gays. The male incubates it during the day, and then the female takes over by night. After hatching, the young birds can fly away from the nest once they reach 14 days old. The pair of Cape Turtle Doves can breed again 7 days after. Meanwhile, the male continues to feed the chicks until the next clutch is laid.

The diet of a Cape Turtle Neck

This bird species feeds on seeds, fleshy succulent leaves, aloe nectar, fallen fruits and berries, and insects such as earthworms, termites, and weevils.



Cape Turtle Dove