Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria)


French: Tourtelette tambourette German: Tamburintaube Spanish: Palomita tamborilera
Other common names: White-breasted Wood-dove

Columba Tympanistria


, 1809,

South Africa


Formerly placed in monotypic genus Tympanistria, as it differs notably from all other Turtur species in coloration, and in having a sharply attenuated first primary; vocalizations, displays and most plumage patterns, however, consistent with placement in genus Turtur. All populations N of R Cunene (S Angola) and R Zambezi formerly separated in race fraseri. Monotypic.


Sierra Leone and Guinea E through coastal W Africa to DRCongo, S Ethiopia and S Somalia, and S to N Angola, N & E Zambia, E Zimbabwe and E & S South Africa; also Bioko (off W Cameroon) and Comoro Is. Recorded N to S Senegal.

Descriptive notes

22–23 cm; male 51–85 g, female 52–77 g. Forehead, area surrounding eye, throat, breast and underparts white; black band from gape to eye; upperparts dark... read more


Delivers series of up to 40 cooing notes over period of 15–16 seconds in advertisment and territory... read more


Typically found in deep forest, in montane, lowland and riparian areas, as well as gallery and... read more

Food and feeding

Known to feed on a variety of seeds, including those of castor-oil (Ricinus), Sorghum, Eleusine, Albizzia... read more


Nests recorded in all months, with local variations; in South Africa, Sept–May, during all but the three coldest months of the year;... read more


Mainly sedentary through much of range; in Malawi, birds have been retrapped in same area 4–5... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally common; common in Ghana and Nigeria; a census in Malawi yielded 20 pairs in 40 ha of forest; however, is considered “... read more

Recommended citation

Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 June 2019).