This species may be distinguished from the larger Cape Turtle-Dove by the lack of a black hind collar, by the diagnostic, black-speckled necklace across its cinnamon breast, and by its cinnamon-coloured back. In flight, the blue-grey forewings contrast conspicuously with the cinnamon back, and the white tip and sides of the tail are obvious.
Sexes alike but female is smaller and paler. Juvenile is duller than adult.
Found in a wide range of habitats but avoids true desert.
Common call is a distinctive, rising and falling 'ooo-coooc-coooc-coo-coo'.