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A photo of a Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

Ocyphaps lophotes

The Crested Pigeon, Ocyphaps lophotes, is a bird of moderate size, ranging from 30 to 34 cm in length. Its plumage is primarily grey with subtle undertones of brown, pink, and green. A distinctive feature is the slender, black crest that adorns its head. The skin around the eye is a striking bright orange. The wings are adorned with black stripes and exhibit a bronzed sheen, while the primary feathers boast iridescent hues of brown, purple, blue, and green. Juveniles are less vivid and lack the wing bronzing. The species exhibits little sexual dimorphism, making it challenging to distinguish males from females by plumage alone.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Crested Pigeon, look for the erect black crest and the unique whistling sound produced during takeoff. The bird's size, grey colouration with iridescent wing patches, and the bright orange periorbital skin are also key identification features.

Habitat

This pigeon prefers lightly wooded grasslands and has adapted well to both rural and urban environments. It can also be found near watercourses, in gardens, pastoral lands, sports grounds, and golf courses.

Distribution

Widely distributed across mainland Australia, the Crested Pigeon is absent only from the far northern tropical regions. The species has seen a range expansion into pastoral lands since European settlement.

Behaviour

The Crested Pigeon is known for the beating and whistling sound its wings make upon takeoff, which serves as both an alarm signal and a predator distraction. These birds exhibit a tail-up posture upon landing and have flight patterns similar to the spotted turtle dove. They are social creatures, often seen in flocks, and are not shy around humans.

Song & Calls

The pigeon's most notable call is the whistling sound made by air rushing over a modified primary feather during flight, which serves as an alarm call.

Breeding

Breeding can occur year-round but peaks in the warmer months. Males perform an elaborate dance with bobbing motions and wing-flapping, accompanied by soft hooting. Nests are typically built in shrubs or trees and consist of twig platforms. Two glossy white eggs are laid, hatching after about three weeks, with both parents sharing incubation duties.

Similar Species

The Crested Pigeon can be confused with the Spinifex Pigeon, but it is larger and lacks the Spinifex's bright facial markings.

Diet and Feeding

These pigeons forage on the ground for grains and have adapted to feed on the seeds of the noxious weed Echium plantagineum, especially in grain farming areas.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Crested Pigeon as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant threats.

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