African Pigeons-The Triangular-spotted Pigeon
By: Tony Brancato
(courtesy the Dove Page)

Columba guinea is also known as the African Rock Pigeon, Red-eyed Pigeon, Guinea Pigeon, and the Hackled Pigeon. However in the United States this specie is commonly called the Triangular-spotted Pigeon. The Triangular-spotted Pigeon is approximately the same size of a domestic Homing pigeon. The bill is a little longer than the domestic counterpart. The Triangular-spotted Pigeon is also more tightly feathered than its domestic cousin is.

Description of Adults: The mantle, wing-coverts and breast area are a burnt umber with a purplish-red sheen on the adult male. The body is a bluish-gray. The interesting markings of white triangular-shaped marks tip the wing shield. When the wing is closed the white markings look nearly like poke-a-dots. The wing feathers are a dull gray. The tail is a Payne's gray with paler gray central bar; two outermost feathers are tipped in white. A jeweled bifurcated necklace encompasses the neck. Each "jewel" is chestnut, tipped in a metallic silvery-green. In some individuals the "jewels" are a pinkish sort of silver. The rest of the body is basically typical grayish-blue and nearly silver on the rump. The head is indeed a work of art. Narrow white "eyebrows" divide the bright red skin around the eyes. In some individuals the orbital skin can be orangish-red or even a purplish-red. This orbital skin is diamond shaped. Eyes are bright yellow, sometimes orange or gold in some individuals. Legs and feet are pale pink. The bill is a dark gray or even black. Both the adult male and the adult female are very similar in appearance. The male usually has brighter orbital skin than the female and is a tiny bit larger. Juveniles; are much duller in color then either parent and lacks the spotting. Both juvenile sexes look the same.

Related Species: In the United States most Triangular-spotted pigeons are from Northern Africa. The Northern African birds are as described above. The Southern African Triangular-spotted pigeon is a subspecie of the northern variety. They are a quarter smaller and a wee bit brighter in plumage than their northern counterparts.

Habitat in the Wild: The Triangular-spotted Pigeon are inhabitants of rocks, cliffs and even buildings throughout the African continent. This species does not inhabit forested or open grasslands.

Breeding in Captivity:
The Triangular-spotted Pigeon is not difficult to breed in captivity. Since this specie is a large pigeon the aviary needs to be large. An aviary that is six foot wide by twelve feet long and six feet high will do nicely for one pair of Triangular-spotted Pigeons. If more that one pair is to be kept together, obviously the aviary needs to be much larger. The Triangular-spotted pigeon is fairly prolific for a foreign pigeon. In the proper housing they will breed well. It is not uncommon for these pigeons to nest readily and raise six to ten squabs during the year.
Prices on these pigeons are very reasonable due to their prolificiness. Unlike many foreign pigeons the Triangular-spotted pigeon nearly competes with the breeding ability of domestic pigeons. Two creamy white eggs are laid in a loose collection of twigs. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Both parents feed the young squabs "pigeon-milk" that are formed in the adults' crop. The young squabs grow rapidly. By four weeks they are as large as their parents. Before the squabs are fully weaned the parents may begin to nest again. Triangular-spotted Pigeons are aggressive, especially during breeding and rearing of young. They can inflict mortal wounds on smaller doves and other foreign pigeons within the same aviary. I recommend that no other doves or pigeons be kept in the same breeding area as the Triangular-spotted Pigeons.

Personality: This specie is undoubtedly very handsome and a swift flyer. Several dove breeders allow their Triangular-spotted pigeons freedom to fly free around their property. The pigeons once acclimated to the aviary return like domestic pigeons to be fed and watered. I have not allowed our Triangular-spotted Pigeons to fly freely. Perhaps I will in the near future. These pigeons one must remember are not domestic pigeons. They are extremely wild and flighty. It is easy to forget and assume they are the same as Homing pigeons, they are not. Some dove breeders have fostered their eggs to domestic pigeons. The Triangular-spotted squabs are somewhat more docile being raised by domestic pigeons. However they continue to be wild and unpredictable and very much afraid of humans. The Triangular- spotted pigeons rarely stay on the ground for very long. They are arboreal staying on the ground only long enough to eat and drink and than fly quickly to the highest area of the aviary.

Diet: Our Triangular-spotted pigeons thrive on a commercial of pigeon feed. The pigeon feed, available at feed stores and pet shops has milo, small pop corn, and variety of peas. I also provide our pigeons with health grit, fresh water and cuttlebone. Several times a week I provide soft food. The soft food is steamed rice and barley, sometimes steamed wheat, millet, niger seeds and raw peanuts. grated carrots or fruit when in season is also provided for our birds. I like to add some wheat germ or cod liver oil to the soft food. All soft food especially during the hot months needs to be removed within an hour to prevent contamination by bacteria.

Housing: The aviary for Triangular-spotted Pigeons needs to be spacious .These birds are large and require ample space to fly and be high enough to feel secure. I sectioned off part of our old barn. The section is twelve feet wide, twenty-five feet long and fifteen feet high. The two pairs of Triangular-spotted Pigeons feel safe and secure perched near the top of the pen. Whenever I enter to feed and water them they are not the least frighten. At one time I had these birds in an eight-foot high pen and whenever I was near the aviary they would panic and hit the walls. Sharing the pen with the Triangular-spotted Pigeons are two pairs of common Bronzewing doves (same size). The Bronzewings are terrestrial and stay on the ground all the time except when roosting for the night. The Bronzewings have a calming effect on the Triangular-spotted Pigeons, as they are docile and very calm. During the breeding season the Triangular-spotted Pigeons can become very aggressive. I monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the common Bronzewing doves. The pen is large enough that there have not been any problems.

In conclusion: Is this specie for you? Triangular-spotted pigeons are beautiful. They are one of the most handsome of the large dove/pigeons. They are hardy, easy to breed and their unusual cooing is like a soft bark! This specie is relatively inexpensive and available throughout the United States. They are cold tolerant and do not require expensive food. They do require a large aviary, and they are wild creatures. These beautiful African pigeons will reward the keeper by their beauty and challenge to keep them in captivity. For the dedicated dove breeder that prefers large doves/pigeons this is excellent specie to consider.