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A photo of a Torresian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa)
Torresian Imperial Pigeon

Torresian Imperial Pigeon

Ducula spilorrhoa

The Torresian imperial pigeon, also known as the nutmeg pigeon, is a pied species of considerable size. It boasts a length of 38-44 centimeters and a wingspan of 45 centimeters. Its plumage is predominantly white or pale cream, contrasted by black flight feathers and tail spots, with occasional brown on the head from fruit feeding.

Identification Tips

To identify this bird, look for its large, plump body and distinctive coloration. The black primary feathers and tail spots are key features, as is the occasional brown tinge on the head. The greenish-yellow bill and black spotting on the undertail coverts are also characteristic.

Habitat

This pigeon is found in a variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, savannas, mangroves, and scrubs.

Distribution

The species is native to north-eastern Australia, New Guinea, the Aru Islands, islands in Geelvink Bay, the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, and the Louisiade Archipelago. It has also been recorded as a vagrant in New South Wales.

Behaviour

The Torresian imperial pigeon exhibits a fast and direct flight pattern, with regular beats and occasional sharp flicks of the wings. It is known to partake in minor local movements, with the Queensland population migrating to New Guinea from February to April and returning in July to August.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of this pigeon include a deep "mrrrooooo," a "roo-ca-hoo," and an "up-ooooo."

Breeding

During the breeding season, males perform a steep upward flight, pause, tip forward, and then glide downwards. Females construct untidy stick nests in trees, often coconut palms, and lay a single white egg. The egg hatches within 26 to 28 days, and the squab fledges after an additional three weeks.

Diet and Feeding

The Torresian imperial pigeon is arboreal and frugivorous, capable of ingesting fruits with large seeds, which are later regurgitated or excreted whole.

Conservation Status

The species is currently classified as Least Concern. Despite historical declines due to hunting, conservation efforts have led to a gradual increase in population, particularly in Australia where the species is protected and numbers are estimated at around 30,000.

Similar Species

The taxonomy of the Torresian imperial pigeon has been a subject of confusion, with some considering it a subspecies of the pied imperial pigeon. However, it is generally recognized as a separate species, with the Kimberley imperial-pigeon sometimes considered a junior synonym or a separate species altogether.

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