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Species Guide

Rufescent Imperial Pigeon

Ducula chalconota

The Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, also known as the Shining Imperial Pigeon, is a rather elusive avian species. It is larger than most of its pigeon kin, with males reaching lengths of 41 to 42 centimeters (16 to 17 inches) and females slightly smaller at 37 to 39 centimeters (15 inches). Both sexes weigh in at a robust 21-22 ounces. The plumage of these birds is a splendid display of metallic greens with bronzy and bluish reflections, while the throat dons a cinnamon hue and the breast a vinous shade. The belly and flanks are a rich chestnut, and the tail is blackish with a blue gloss. Red feet, reddish eyes, and a dark slate beak complete their striking appearance.

Identification Tips

To identify the Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, look for its large size and distinctive coloration. The male's slaty-grey head and the metallic sheen on the back and wing coverts are key features. The female is very similar to the male but can be distinguished by slight color differences. Juveniles have a paler head and neck, and their breast is more greyish. The subspecies chalconota is notable for its reddish-purple iridescence on the mantle and back.


This species thrives in the montane forests of New Guinea, preferring the tranquility of the forest's deeper layers. They are found at elevations ranging from 3,600 to 8,200 feet, which is quite high for members of the Columbidae family.


The Rufescent Imperial Pigeon is endemic to New Guinea, with two recognized subspecies: D. c. chalconota in Vogelkop and D. c. smaragdina in western, central, and eastern New Guinea. A distinct population has been reported in the Foja Mountains.


These pigeons are typically solitary or found in pairs, often perching in the middle layers of the forest. They are generally silent but may emit a slow, mournful hum, a low hoo, or a hollow knock when alarmed. Duetting behavior has been observed, though it is not common.

Song & Calls

The Rufescent Imperial Pigeon is not known for its vocalizations, but when it does call, it produces a hollow knock or a slurred "woo" sound.


Little is known about the breeding habits of this species. However, individuals in breeding condition have been collected in February and March, suggesting a breeding season around this time.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, the Rufescent Imperial Pigeon's size and coloration make it quite distinctive among pigeons.

Diet and Feeding

As a frugivorous bird, the Rufescent Imperial Pigeon primarily feeds on fruits, figs, and seeds, which are abundant in its montane forest habitat.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Rufescent Imperial Pigeon as Least Concern. The population is stable and does not face significant threats at this time.

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