16 September 2017

African Olive Pigeon at the Raydah Escarpment – Bird record by Arnold Uy

Arnold Uy recently went to the Raydah Escarpment near Abha and found a relatively tame African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix. This is a scarce to uncommon species although it is a local breeder in the southwest highlands. It is not entirely clear if birds are resident although HBW states it is, as there is only one record from the months of December to February. It is a large pigeon, about the size of a European Woodpigeon and is predominantly dark grey with obvious white speckles on breast and wing-coverts. The females are a bit duller than the males. The iris is pale yellow to light brown, the bare skin around the eye, cere, bill and legs are bright yellow, which is conspicuous and diagnostic even in flight. They feed on fruits of various trees, including Podocarpus, Prunus and Ficus species and are patchily from Eritrea south through eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to southern South Africa. There are other populations in southwest Saudi Arabia and nearby northern Yemen and west Angola.The species was discovered as a new species for Saudi Arabia in the mid 1980’s. JENNINGS, M. C. 1986. The Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix on Jebel Suda, Asir Province: a new bird species for Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. J. Saudi Arab. Nat. Hist. Soc. (2)6:35-36. Arnold did very well to get such a good photo of the bird as they are difficult to see at the best of times. Arnolds photo is shown below and he has kindly given me permission to use it.
African Olive Pigeon