Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon perched on bare ground with green leaves in the background

Scientific Name: Ocyphaps lophotes

Size: 30 to 35 cm

What does it look like?

The Crested Pigeon is a stocky pigeon with a conspicuous black crest. Most of the plumage is grey-brown, becoming more pink on the underparts. The wings are barred with black, and are decorated with glossy green and purple windows. The head is grey, with an pinkish-red ring around the eye. If startled it takes to the air with a characteristic whistling flight, and glides with down turned wings. Upon landing, it swings its tail high in the air. The whistling sound is produced by the air passing a reduced primary wing feather.

There are only two Australian pigeon species that possess a crest. The Spinifex Pigeon, Geophaps plumifera, is markedly smaller (20 to 24 cm) than the Crested Pigeon, and has cinnamon coloured plumage and a bright red facial patch.

Where is it found?

The Crested Pigeon throughout most of mainland Australia.

What are its habitats & habits?

It is usually found in lightly wooded grasslands in both rural and urban areas, typically the vicinity of water, as it has to drink every day, and is absent from the denser forests. The Crested Pigeon is native to Australia.

Food consists mostly of native seeds, as well as introduced crops and weeds. Some leaves and insects are also eaten. Feeding is in small to large groups, which also congregate to drink at waterholes. Birds arrive somewhat nervously in nearby trees, and often sit for long periods before descending to drink. Drinking and feeding is most common in morning and evening, but can occur at any time.

Crested Pigeons may breed at any time of the year, but mostly September to March. The nest is a delicate structure of twigs, placed in a tree or dense bush. Both sexes share the incubation of the 2 eggs, and both care for the young. The young birds hatch after about 3 wks and leave the nest after a further 3 wks.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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