Rameron Pigeon

26th June 2010

Distribution: This species has a large range extending over between 100,000 and 1,000,000 km. The Rameron Pigeon is a resident breeding bird in much of eastern and southern Africa from Cameroon and Ethiopia to the Cape. It can be found in the following countries in Africa: Angola, Burundi, Djibouti (vagrant), Congo DR, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. And in the Arabian peninsula in: southwestern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen.

The Rameron Pigeon is found mainly in South Africa, though, ranging from the Western Cape all the way up to KwaZulu-Natal, with small populations on part of border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and in Angola.

Status: The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers), even though the species is described as 'uncommon' 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.

The Rameron Pigeon is even locally common, despite the sizeable gaps in its distribution due to its habitat requirements. It is not considered threatened, but it might become at risk because of the reduction and fragmentation of forests.

Habitat: This is a species of cool, moist forest canopies above 1,400 m altitude, although it occurs locally as low as 700 m. It will also use riverine forests and thickets, mountain fynbos, second growth and clearings, some alien tree plantations, urban gardens and parks, and feed on agricultural land when not persecuted.
Outside the breeding season, the Rameron Pigeon tends to move from the evergreen montane forests to lowland forests. It is often seen in fruit trees or bushes, which are its main source of food.

General habits: Rameron pigeons form flocks and roost communally when not breeding, perching high in trees. They are somewhat nomadic seasonally, depending on fruiting of trees and will fly considerable distances from their roosts to feeding areas. They have a quick flight, with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings which are characteristic of pigeons in general. They enjoy bathing and sand-bathing and should be provided with opportunities to do so when kept in captivity.

Feeding habits: The Rameron Pigeon has adapted to the Human world by feeding in cultivated areas, but it still consumes mostly fruits and berries taken from the canopies, and to a lesser extend, fallen fruits, seeds, insects and caterpillars picked from the ground. It has been recorded feeding from a variety of trees including Podocarpus(the Yellowwood), Prunus and Ficus.In the south of its range, it is very found of the fruit of the bugweed (Solanum mauritianum). The Rameron Pigeon has also been recorded to eat mud for an unknown reason.

Breeding habits: The Rameron Pigeon is monogamous. It will seek another mate only if the first one dies. Breeding season is normally from November to May, but eggs can be layed anytime of the year. The male has a display consisting of deep bows, and a display flight which consists of a climb, wingclapping, and a slow glide down.

Nest: The Rameron Pigeon builds a large stick nest up to 15 m high in a tree on the edge of the forest. It is a circular collection of twigs, with a depression in the middle, sometimes lined with leaves. Nests can be found in forks in trees such as Olea africana (African olive), Sideroxylon inerme (White milkwood) and sometimes Pinus (Pines). The female is the one actually building the nest, with the male collecting the material, and putting it on his partner's back, who then puts it underneath her body.

Eggs: This bird lays one, rarely two, white glossy eggs which measure 39 x 29 mm. Incubation lasts 16 to 20 days and is shared by both parents, who change shifts in the early morning and late afternoon.

Young: The chicks are fed by both parents, and leave the nest after 19-20 days. Juvenile Rameron Pigeons have the maroon and grey of adults replaced with dark brown, the bare parts are a dull greenish-yellow, and the wing feathers have pale fringes.

Call: The Rameron Pigeon's call is a loud monotonous "coo coo".

Description: The Rameron is a large pigeon , about the size of a European wood pigeon or a francolin (or Spurfowl). It reaches a total length of 37-42 cm and a body-weight of 300 to 450 g. The adult male has marron back and wings, with the shoulders heavily speckled with white spots. The underparts are maroon with heavy white spotting, and the head is grey with yellow patches around the eye, and a yellow bill. The neck plumage, used in display, is streaked maroon and white, the underwing and undertail are dark grey, and the feet are yellow. The female is very similar but somewhat duller and slightly smaller. In flight, this pigeon looks very dark. Yet, the pale yellow to light brown iris, the bare bright yellow skin around the eye, cere, bill and legs, are conspicuous and allow for this species identification even in flight.

Did you know: The large bird genus Columba comprises a group of medium to large stout-bodied pigeons , often referred to as the "typical pigeons" . The term Columba is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek (kolumbos) “a diver”, from (kolumbao), “to dive, plunge headlong, swim”. Aristophanes and others use the word (kolumbis) "diver", for the name of the bird, because of its swimming motion in the air.

The species commonly referred to just as the "pigeon" is the feral Rock Pigeon (Columba livia ). It is this species that has given rise to the majority of domesticated pigeon varieties, including the racing pigeon.

The Rameron pigeon was first imported to Europe in 1864 when London Zoo received its first birds. London Zoo was also the first zoo to breed the species in 1912, followed by Berlin Zoo in 1913.

The Rameron Pigeon is prey to the following birds: Rufous-chested sparrowhawk, Red-breasted sparrowhawk, African goshawk, Black sparrowhawk, Peregrine falcon, African hawk-eagle.

The Rameron Pigeon is also called: African Olive-pigeon, African Pigeon, Olive Pigeon, Yellow-eyed Pigeon [English]; Geelbekbosduif [Afrikaans]; Izuba, Izubantonga [Xhosa]; iVugute, iVukuthu-lehlathi [Zulu]; Ngalakana [Tsonga]; Leeba (generic term for pigeon or dove), Leebaphêpane [Tswana]; le-Phepane [seSotho]; Olijfduif [Dutch]; Pigeon rameron, Pigeon arquatrix [French]; Oliventaube [German]; Pombo-d'olho-amarelo [Portuguese]; Paloma de Ojos Amarillos [Spanish]; Gulbrilledue [Norwegian].