Speckled Pigeon (Columba guinea)

Cover image. Speckled Pigeon by Gregg Darling – BirdPix 46904


This is a large pigeon at 41 cm in length. Its back and wings are reddish-brown, the latter heavily speckled with white spots. The rest of the upperparts and underparts are blue-grey, and the head is grey with prominent red patches around the eye. The neck is brownish, streaked with white, and the legs are red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are browner than adults and lack the red eye patches. The call is a loud doo-doo-doo.

Speckled Pigeon identification guide
Main photo: BirdPix 117234 – Lance Robinson, Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Gauteng, 17 September 2016. Photo inset: BirdPix 61337 – Lia Steen, Greylingstad district, Mpumalanga, 02 September 2018.


The Speckled Pigeon is common throughout most of South Africa, except for the lowveld (eastern and northern South Africa) and the coast of KwaZulu-Natal Province.

SABAP2 distribution map. Speckled Pigeon
SABAP2 distribution map for Speckled Pigeon, downloaded on 07 November 2022. Details for map interpretation can be found here


The Speckled Pigeon is common across southern Africa, especially in South Africa. It usually prefers rocky, mountainous areas with cliffs and gorges, but it can also be found near buildings and in gardens.

Columba guinea
Speckled Pigeon on a rocky ledge – BirdPix 215730 – Jon Blanco, Camdeboo National Park, Eastern Cape, 08 April 2022.
Columba guinea
Speckled Pigeons on the roof of a house – BirdPix 213802 – Johan and Estelle van Rooyen, Riversdale, Western Cape, 11 March 2022.


It feeds mostly on seeds, rarely eating small fruits and flowers. It typically forages on the ground, usually on farmland, lawns or roads. They can gather in large numbers, especially agricultural fields, where grain or groundnuts are available.

The Speckled Pigeon builds its own nest, with the male collecting material and giving it to the female, who then puts it into the nest. This consists of a collection of twigs, grass, herbs and sometimes wire and nails. The nest is usually built on cliff ledges, in caves, gullies, or often in buildings.

Speckled Pigeon nest
Speckled Pigeon nests – Photo left: BirdPix 21036 – Dieter Oschadleus, Robben Island, Western Cape, 03 October 2015. Photo right: BirdPix 11544 –  Graham Bull, Langebaan, Western Cape, 25 October 2014.

Breeding takes place year round. The female lays 1-3 eggs which both parents incubate in shifts for about 15 days. The chicks are brooded for the first six days of their lives, after which brooding ceases. The nestling period is highly variable depending on the environment, ranging from 21-37 days.

Further Resources

Species text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997.

Virtual Museum (BirdPix > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name).

More common names: Kransduif (Afrikaans); Ivukuthu (Xhosa); iVukuthu (Zulu); Gespikkelde Duif (Dutch); Guineataube (German).

A list of bird species in this format is available here.

Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M, Daniel KA 2022. Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available online at http://thebdi.org/2022/11/07/speckled-pigeon-columba-guinea/

Bird Feeder Project: Karis Daniel & Megan Loftie-Eaton
Bird Feeder Project: Karis Daniel & Megan Loftie-Eaton
The Bird Feeder Project is a BDI citizen science initiative involving school learners and youth eco-clubs. Learners are taught a scientific protocol for doing 10-minute watches and recording the species they see, in the order they see them. The Bird Feeder Project includes an online identification guide to about 30 of the species seen in gardens in Cape Town. Students will learn how to upload their cellphone photos into the BirdPix section of the Virtual Museum, where they will be curated for posterity. The 10-minute watches will rapidly grow into a valuable monitoring database. Karis Daniel is the Project Coordinator and put together the identification guide, Megan Loftie-Eaton helped with the species texts.