Streptopelia senegalensis

By Maha Khalil


Possibly the second commonest animal on campus after the famous AUC cat, this red-brown-and –blue-grey dove is often seen walking fearlessly on the ground close to the hurrying feet of students, confident of its ability to fly out of harm’s way at the right moment. The palm dove (also known as the laughing dove) lives in towns and in open areas with scattered trees, and nests in buildings on windowsills or ledges or any other kind of manmade sheltered area as well as in trees and bushes.

            Palm doves feed on small seeds and bread crumbs, and are attracted to places where people would feed birds. They are often seen tapping the ground with their claws near the bamboo chairs on campus, feasting on the remains of a student’s meal in the afternoons or early in the mornings.

             Beyond AUC, palm doves, until the end of the last century, were found mostly in tropical Africa and east through southern Arabia to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and India. Presently, they have spread and continue to spread in Asia and Africa.


             The breeding season lasts throughout most of the year, reaching a peak in spring and early summer. The male courts the female by flying steeply upwards 10m while flapping his wings and then gliding in circles with the wings and tail outstretched. Palm dove pairs spend two days building a very simple nest together; the male brings the material and the female arranges it. Three days later, the female lays one egg and then lays another 24 hours later. Both hatch within 14 days allowing two blind, down-covered chicks to emerge. The chicks open their eyes after five days and are capable of flying two weeks later.


– The International Centre for the Study of Bird Migration.


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