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Mountain Imperial Pigeon

Ducula badia

The Mountain Imperial Pigeon, known also as the Maroon-backed Imperial Pigeon or Hodgson's Imperial Pigeon, stands as the largest pigeon species within its Southeast Asian range. Measuring a stately 43 to 51 centimeters in length, it boasts a fairly long tail and broad, rounded wings that beat slowly. Its plumage is a study in contrast: the head, neck, and underparts are a vinous-grey, set off by a stark white throat, while the upperparts and wings are a rich brownish-maroon, though this can appear duller in certain lights. The underwing is a slate-grey, and the tail is blackish, adorned with a grey horizontal line. This pigeon's size and maroon back render it unmistakable among its avian peers.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Mountain Imperial Pigeon, look for its large size and the distinctive maroon coloration on its back. The white throat provides a clear demarcation from the vinous-grey of the bird's underparts. In flight, observe the slow wing-beats and the grey line across the blackish tail.

Habitat

This species is most at home in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, as well as mangrove forests and moist montane forests. It is a bird of the old-growth forest, often found at elevations from sea level up to 2,550 meters in the Himalayas and 2,200 meters on Sumatra.

Distribution

The Mountain Imperial Pigeon has a broad range across southeastern Asia, including territories in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Behaviour

Typically a solitary bird, the Mountain Imperial Pigeon can sometimes be observed in groups of up to 20, particularly when roosting or navigating mountainous terrain. They are elusive, preferring the high canopy and flying above it, which can make them challenging to spot.

Song & Calls

The call of this pigeon is a deep, resonant boom, but it is a sound that one is likely to hear only when in close proximity to the bird.

Breeding

The breeding display of the Mountain Imperial Pigeon is quite a spectacle. The bird puffs up its throat and bows while emitting its call, followed by a dramatic vertical flight from its perch, ascending 6 to 8 meters before gliding back down with wings and tail spread wide. Breeding season varies geographically, occurring from March to August in the northern parts of its range and from January to May further south. The nest is a simple platform, placed 5 to 8 meters above ground in a small tree, where one, occasionally two, eggs are laid and incubated by both parents.

Similar Species

While there are other imperial pigeon species, the Mountain Imperial Pigeon's large size and maroon back distinguish it from its congeners.

Diet and Feeding

Fruits and berries, particularly figs and nutmeg, comprise the diet of this pigeon. They consume their food whole and may occasionally descend to the ground to drink. In certain areas, they may exhibit altitudinal movements in search of food.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the Mountain Imperial Pigeon as Least Concern, indicating that, for now, the species does not face an immediate threat of extinction.

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Mountain Imperial Pigeons on Birda

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