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Yellow-eyed Pigeon

Columba eversmanni

The Yellow-eyed Pigeon, also known as the Pale-backed Pigeon or Yellow-eyed Dove, is a medium-sized bird of the Columbidae family. It exhibits a predominantly grey plumage with a subtle brownish hue on its upper parts and a pinkish-purple iridescence on the crown, throat, and breast. This species reaches approximately 30 cm in length and weighs between 183 to 234 grams.

Identification Tips

Distinguishable by its yellowish skin around the eye and yellow iris, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon also features a yellowish beak and pink feet. Its wing displays a black bar, and the tail has a diffuse dark band, while the lower back, rump, and underwing are white or pale grey. It can be mistaken for the Rock Dove, which has more pronounced wing bars and tail band, or the Hill Pigeon, which sports a white subterminal band on the tail above the black terminal band.


Inhabiting steppes and other lowland regions, including semi-arid and arid zones, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon is adapted to a variety of open landscapes.


Breeding across southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, north-east Iran, and extreme north-west China, this pigeon migrates southward to winter in north-east Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir, and parts of Rajasthan.


The Yellow-eyed Pigeon is generally a silent bird, but may emit a faint "oo-oo-oo" during the breeding season. It migrates in October and November, forming flocks that roost in trees. Once seen in thousands, flocks have now dwindled to dozens or a few hundred individuals.

Song & Calls

During the breeding season, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon may occasionally vocalize a soft "oo-oo-oo".


The breeding season sees this pigeon nesting in cliff holes, hollow trees, or ruined buildings, laying two white eggs on a stick platform. Nesting occurs from late spring through summer.

Similar Species

The Rock Dove and Hill Pigeon are similar species, but can be differentiated by their more prominent wing bars and tail bands.

Diet and Feeding

Primarily feeding on seeds, grains, and berries, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon forages on the ground and occasionally plucks fruits directly from branches.

Conservation Status

Once abundant, the Yellow-eyed Pigeon has seen a significant population decline, primarily due to hunting. Its current population trend is unknown, but the decline may be ongoing. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as "Vulnerable".

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Yellow-eyed Pigeons on Birda

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Profile picture for Grigory Evtukh
Grigory Evtukh
06 May 2023 - 8:19am

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