Their body feathers are darkest on the upper side, where they are coloured in dull tones of grey and brown, with shades of lavender on the nape. It is paler below, where a tint of pinkish lavender is usually present. The lower belly and crissum is white. As with related species, they have white fringes and conspicuous white tips to the otherwise slate grey tail feathers. The tail pattern is particularly noticeable during the display flight. Individual plumage variation is high, with some light and others almost sooty. Males and females look alike, although the males are slightly bigger. They measure 25-26.5 cm (9.8-10.4 in) in length and weigh 92-188 g (3.2-6.6 oz). The eyes are almost black, the bill is black and the feet are dark purple. An immature is duller and lacks the semi-collar of an adult. It also has buff edges to all the upper part and wing covert feathers, while the plumage below is broadly edged greyish-white. Ring-necked doves roost in treetops during the night and forage for food on the ground by day. Peak foraging times are early morning and late afternoon, and they drink mainly in the morning. When they walk on the ground, their heads bob back and forth with each small step.
Habitat and Distribution
It is a widespread and often abundant dove species in East and southern Africa. It is a mostly sedentary bird, found in a catholic variety of open habitats. It occupies a diverse range of habitat types, including semi-desert scrub, Boscia and Acacia savannah, a variety of woodland types, farmlands, open plantations and alien acacia thickets. Only closed forest or plantations, or the extensive waterless dune fields and gravel plains of the Namib are unsuited to their requirements. In southern Africa they are most commonly observed in fynbos regions, miombo and mopane woodlands, besides any grassland types from moist to dry regions. Their presence in the latter areas has been facilitated by the planting of trees in groves, for instance around farm homesteads. They are vulnerable at exposed waterholes or in plantations where they are preyed on by lanner falcons and black sparrowhawks respectively. In addition they are preyed on by reptiles, wild cats, jackals, genets, herons, storks, eagles and barn owls. Nests are vulnerable to birds, snakes and locally, grey squirrel. Seasonal movements are most noticeable in tropical areas, while nomadic movements occur in arid environments with limited resources. They seldom occur above 2,000 metres.
They feed mainly on seeds (of grasses, cereal grains, lupins, milkweeds, alien acacias and pines), but also on broken fruit and berries (of oaks, gums, currants and Lantana), and insects on occasion (earthworms, termites, weevils and other). Other recorded food items include small sedge bulbs, fleshy succulent leaves, aloe nectar and sugary aphid secretions.
They are monogamous, territorial nesters. Males display by flapping up a steep gradient before spiraling down with wings and tail spread out. From a perch or on the ground the male will engage in a bowing display, synchronized with a rolling crooning, ?uk-carrroooo, ...?, while the throat is inflated. A pair will give a double coo with a long second syllable when selecting a nest site. The female takes two to three days to construct the flimsy, platform nest. It is made of twigs and leaf petioles that are carefully selected by the male (as in other dove species), and delivered to her at the nest site. The nest is placed 2 to 10 meters above ground, on a horizontal branch fork. Quite often an old nest of another species may be used. Two to four pure white eggs are laid, and both sexes participate in the incubation that takes around two weeks. Chicks are fed regurgitated food by both parents and fledge after about 16 days. Several broods (up to 5) may be raised in a season.
Calls and Songs
They are quite noisy in these groups, not only for the various calls they make throughout the day, or often into (mainly moonlit) nights, but also due to the loud clatter of their wings when they take flight. Their song is a loud and harsh ?kuk-COORRRR-uk, ...? (sometimes interpreted as 'how's father?' or 'work harder') which they may repeat ten to forty times. Less often a repeated ?wuh-ka-RROOO, ...? may be given. A raspy, snarling ?kooorr?, or ?knarrrrrr?, call is often given when it alights on a perch, arrives at an incubating mate or chases another dove away.