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.



  1. Thank you for sharing photos of the beautiful African green pigeons. You are truly blessed! I wonder if you know the fig species that the pigeons are feasting on. It certainly looks different from the fig tree that I have. I would like to plant your type of fig tree in my garden and perhaps we might attract African green pigeons one day. Thank you!


    • It depends very much on where you live. This fig is known as the Natal Fig (Ficus natalensis), which we inherited with our (fortunately large) garden. I would not recommend growing it anywhere near perimeter walls or buildings as it grows to be enormous and has very long side roots. African Green Pigeons love eating fruit and (I am guessing you are from South Africa) so any indigenous fruit/berry bearing trees would be attractive to them. People in this town have also reported seeing them in their pear, mulberry, and plum trees! These birds also like Jackalberry (Diospyros mespiliformis) and Buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata).


  2. I have one that a neighbor asked me if i wanted if he caught it in his garage. It has a band on it’s leg and I found out after some investigation work it’s from Indonesia. I tried to ask around who might have owned it but no one claimed it so I have her in a large cage in my living room and every so often I let her out and she flies to the fireplace mantle and back to her cage door. actually, the one i have is a fruit pigeon although I called the vet and he said I could feed her duck pellets and she loves them. 🙂


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