Roberts No 361
by Pompie Burger
A pigeon-like parrot or, a parrot-like pigeon? In Afrikaans these birds are aptly called papegaaiduif, translated as parrot dove. Whatever you call these green beauties, they are indeed an interesting bunch of birds. They occur in the north and north-eastern parts of Namibia and live almost exclusively in fruit-bearing trees, with a very strong preference for wild fig (Ficus). They are usually found in groups of between four and even up to 40, devouring the fruit from the trees especially early in the mornings and resting in the shade of wild-fig trees for the rest of the day. They very seldom forage on the ground.
There is an urban legend that if African Green-Pigeons become frightened, they drop dead. It’s not too difficult to work out where this comes from, because if they are disturbed either by humans or by a raptor flying overhead, there is a flutter in the chicken shed and all of them take flight in a rather hapha-zard way, or, if I may say so, in a rather pigeon-like way. Apart from being a bundle of nerves, they also have this very parrot-like way of hanging upside down when feeding, especially when the fruit is in an awkward place to reach.
Because of their colour, these birds are well camouflaged when sitting in a tree with green foliage. Another curious feature is their blue eyes, which make them look even more strange. All in all you can say for sure that they are the most good-looking pigeons in Namibia. Interestingly enough there are seven subspecies in Southern Africa, three of them occurring in Namibia, namely the T. c. damarensis, ansorgei and vylderi. All three of these subspecies have a bright yellowish-green back, and a grey-green head and under-parts.
About the author:
Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose part-time passion is photography, in particular wildlife, and specifically birds. This regularly takes him to the most remote corners of the country, resulting in riveting images and articles.
Pompie is the author and photographer of the coffee table book Birds of Namibia, which was published in 2008. The book contains articles and photographs which attest to the insight and knowledge of an accomplished observer.
Read more of his articles in our Birding Section.
This article appeared in the April/May ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.