Crested Pigeon Ed Dunens/Flickr

Crested Pigeon

Ocyphaps lophotes

Did You Know?

The whistling sound heard when the Crested Pigeon is flying is made by air passing over a modified primary feather on its wing.

All pigeons feed their young "milk", which is rich in protein and has a higher fat content than cow’s milk. This liquid is produced by the flaking off and liquefying of skin in the bird’s crop (a pouch in its throat).

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Black and white, with the pattern varying across its range. The back of its neck, upper tail and shoulders (on its wings) are white in males and grey in females, and (across most of Australia) the rest of its body is black. In south-eastern, central and south-western Australia, including Tasmania, its back and rump are entirely white. Its eye is red-brown. Young birds are usually grey rather than black and have dark eyes.

Distinctive feature

One toe faces backwards and three face forwards. It has a square-tipped tail.

Size

36 – 44 cm long (from head to tail), with an average wing span of 76 cm

Behaviour

Call

A carolling, flute-like song, often calling together.

Diet

Small insects and animals that live on, or just under, the surface of the ground, including grasshoppers, scarab beetles, insect larvae, frogs and small lizards. During the day it walks along jabbing its beak into the ground, searching for food.

Flight

Swift, strong and direct, sometimes in flocks of several hundred birds.

Breeding

It is extremely territorial during the four to six weeks of the breeding season. The female usually selects a nest site, which is either high up a tree, on a power pole or on the roof of a building. The nest is a rough basket of sticks, twigs, plant stems and occasionally wire, lined with softer materials such as wool, hair, grass, feathers and shredded bark. The female lays between one and six eggs, which are either blue or green with brown blotching, and she sits on them for 20 days. She then feeds her young until they are about four weeks old, when they are ready to fly and leave the nest.

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What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

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When and Where

When To Look

From August through to March, although breeding can occur at any time of the year.

Where To Look

  • Throughout most of mainland Australia
  • In urban and rural areas in grasslands, forests, farmland, parks and gardens, but not in dense forests It needs to drink every day so is usually found near water
  • Look near trees and a source of water
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Similar Species

Spinifex Pigeon is smaller (20–24 cm) with cinnamon coloured feathers and a bright red patch on its face.

Topknot Pigeon is larger (40–46 cm) with a shaggy, red-brown crest that is droopy rather than erect like the Crested Pigeon’s. Also, it is rarely found on the ground.