Blue-headed Wood Dove
Turtur brehmeri

AKA: Maiden Dove, Blue-headed Dove

©Brian Schmidt

Distribution: Found primaily in the rain forests of west Africa from the coastal forests of Sierra Leone, through the Cameroons, Rio Benito, French Congo & northern Belgian Congo. Seldom found in secondary growth; but avoids all clearings & cleared areas.

Races: two races accepted. T. b. brehmeri (Hartlaub 1865) - central Congo from Gabon & Zaire east to the Rift Valley. T. b. infelix (J. L. Peters 1937) - coastal rainforests of Sierre Leone to Cameroon; said to have less vinous mauve pink on upper breast & wing spots a more metallic green then nominate race. Both races overlap each other.

Description: Length 25 cm. Forehead, crown & nape blue grey having  a paler blue grey face; dark purple stripe from bill to eye. Scapulars & inner wing coverts have two golden bronze or golden copper areas forming iridescent patches. Underwing chestnut. Upper breast a distinct vinous mauve pink; breast belly & flanks rufous. Plumage a dark chestnut brown strongly tinged with reddish purple on the neck mantle & wing shields. Rump & tail a rufous, less vinous on underparts. Iris dark brown, eye cere blue grey. Bill dark purplish red with dull greenish tip, Feet & legs dark purplish red. Female similar to male, may be less bright overall. Juvenile: chestnut brown & black barred plumage.