Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) is widely distributed across Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. During the last 30 years, the species has undergone a range expansion across the Middle East where the species now recorded in many countries and has reached as north as Turkey and Georgia. In Egypt the expansion was much slower and the first breeding record was only made in 2012 (see Hering et al. 2015).
On the western part of the species’ range, there were no much records outside the known breeding areas until two Namaqua Doves were photographed at Safia reserve not far from the Mauritanian border by Abdeljebbar Qninba and members of the ‘Association Nature Initiative’ in May 2015.
In spring 2016, the Namaqua Dove was one of the ‘star birds’ in the Dakhla-Aousserd region (the main one is the Golden Nightjar). Many observations have been recorded between mid-March and mid-May at different sites: Agridak, Mijk, Imlili and at 3 km before Aousserd (see detailed observations in Chevalier et al. 2016).
This year, the Namaqua Dove was even observed far north near Rabat on 14 March (Lisle Gwynn / Tropical Birding Tours).
First breeding record of the Namaqua Dove
After all these observations, it was expected that these birds could breed locally. On 14 May, Franck Chevalier and Mohammed Belhaj observed and photographed a young bird at Mijk and thus documenting the first breeding evidence of the species in Morocco. At mid-May 2016, this nucleus population is formed by at least two males, two females and one juvenile (Chevalier et al. 2016).
Rich and diverse avifauna
With this breeding record, the Namaqua Dove is added to an already rich and diverse avifauna that breed in the region: Black-crowned Finch Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps), African Dunn’s Lark (Eremalauda d. dunni), Cricket Warbler (Spiloptila clamans) and many other desert birds.
Chevalier, F., Belhaj, M. & Bergier, P. 2016. Premier cas de reproduction de la Tourtelette masquée Oena capensis au Maroc. Go-South Bulletin 13: 82-89.
Hering, J. Barthel, P.H. & Fuchs, E. 2015. Namaqua Doves breeding in southern Egypt in 2012-13. Dutch Birding 37: 98-102.