What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #22 Crested Pigeon

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#22 Crested Pigeon
(Ocyphaps lophotes)

This attractive pigeon with grey-brown plumage can easily be recognized by its conspicuous thin black crest. The Spinifex Pigeon also has a similar crest but is restricted to Western Australia. The head of the Crested Pigeon is also grey with the eye having a distinctive pink ring around it. The underside of the body gradually becomes pinker and this contrasts the black barred wings with purple and glossy green patches.

Like many pigeons when startled they will take to the air with a characteristic whistling or audible flight. This whistling sound being produced from air passing over modified primary wing feathers.

The Crested Pigeon can be found across most of the mainland of Australia except the topical northern areas and parts of the arid west. Its need to drink water regularly will restrict it to areas were there is a reliable sources of water. Its habitat preference is for lightly wooded areas with a grassy understory and urban areas and is absent from denser forests.

The diet of the Crested Pigeon consists primarily of seeds of both native and exotic grasses and plants, with insects and leaves also consumed.

The nest of Crested Pigeon consists of a delicate arrangement of twigs, placed in a tree or suitable dense bush. Incubation of the eggs and care for the young is undertaken by both sexes. 

© Habitat Ecology 2012

Crested Pigeon

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