I first noticed African Green Pigeons (Treron calvus) in our garden in 2004, when a few of them were barely visible in the fig tree. It was only then that I realised that the odd croaks, wails and whinnying calls I had been hearing for a while was theirs.
They mainly eat fruit and so are quite at home in the fig tree – yet, thanks to their cryptically coloured plumage that effectively camouflages them among the leaves, they are notoriously difficult to spot while they clamber around on the branches in the canopy of the tree. While they forage, they often hang upside down or flap their wings to keep their balance. I have never seen one coming down to the ground in my garden, although I have spotted them on bushes almost at ground level in other parts of town – as well as in the Kruger National Park!
When they emerge from the foliage you can truly appreciate their beautiful colouring: the upperparts are greyish green to yellowish green and the thighs are yellow with mauve patches on the top of the wing.
Their bills are whitish with a red cere. Their feet are also a reddish colour. I find their blue eyes to be most striking.
They are gregarious birds and although I seldom see more than a few at a time, if there is a sudden loud noise (such as a large vehicle rumbling past) it is amazing to see well over thirty birds flying away from the tree at once! Their flight is fast and direct as they generally head towards the Erythrina trees at the back of the garden. They can sometimes be seeing sunning themselves there on a chilly winter morning.