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  Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2019


Pigeons & Doves

Fig 1 : Pink-necked Green Pigeon - male

Fig 2 : Pink-necked Green Pigeon - female

Fig 3 : Thick-billed Pigeon - male

Fig 4 : Emerald Dove

Fig 5 : Rock Pigeon

Fig 6 : Green Imperial Pigeon

Fig 7 : Mountain Imperial Pigeon

Fig 8 : Pied Imperial Pigeon

Fig 9 : Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon

Fig 10 : Zebra Dove

Fig 11 : Spotted Dove



Most people are able to identify the basic form of a pigeon or dove (family : Columbidae), given the ability of some species in this family to adapt to life in our towns and cities e.g. the Rock Pigeon.

Pigeons are generally plump in body form, with short, strong bills and short legs. 'Doves' generally refers to species which appear smaller, more slender and elegant, but the two words are synonymous.

Some of the region's pigeons exhibit handsome colouration, particularly in males. Females are generally more plain in colour.

Pigeons and doves are strong, but somewhat clumsy, fliers : wing beats are noisy especially when fleeing rapidly from disturbance.

Their nests comprise a flimsy arrangement of sticks, often only half-hidden amongst tree branches, though some species favour more concealed, dense vegetation. In mountainous or coastal areas, some species nest on rock ledges, and in forested areas some species are mainly terrestrial and nest just above the ground. Ground-dwellers are particularly vulnerable to predation from introduced predators such as rats and domestic cats.

Pigeons and doves feed mainly on fleshy seeds : they play an important role in forest ecology by dispersing, in their faeces, the seeds of fruiting trees and shrubs, as well as figs.

Pigeons and doves have a near global distribution with around 300 species being recognised. More than 50 species are likely to occur in Southeast Asia.

Fig 1 :
Pink-necked Green Pigeon - male
Treron vernans
Habitat : Wooded, residential area.
Location : Portsdown, Singapore

Fig 2 :
Pink-necked Green Pigeon - female
Treron vernans
Habitat : Wooded, residential area.
Location : Portsdown, Singapore
Notes : Feeding on ripe figs of Ficus benjamina (= Banyan).

Fig 3 :
Thick-billed Pigeon - male
Treron curvirostra
Habitat : Lowland, tall secondary forest.
Location : Upper Seletar, Singapore
Notes : Feeding on small fruits, high in the canopy.

Fig 4 :
Emerald Dove
Chalcophaps indica
Habitat : Lowland secondary forest
Location : Lower Peirce, Singapore
Notes : This is a shy, forest floor species which, when disturbed on trails or near streams, quietly retreats into the forest without taking flight.

Fig 5 :
Rock Pigeon
Columba livia
Habitat : Parkland
Location : Singapore
Notes : This is the feral descendant of the wild Rock Pigeon : it occurs in towns and cities throughout the world.  It has successfully adapted to the concrete, high-rise, urban environment because the natural habitat of its ancestor is one of rock ledges and sea cliffs.

Fig 6 :
Green Imperial Pigeon
Ducula aenea
Habitat : Open, lowland forest
Location : Komodo Island, Indonesia

Fig 7 :
Mountain Imperial Pigeon
Ducula badia
Habitat : Lower Montane Forest (elevation 1000m)
Location : Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia
Notes :
Roosting at midday deep in the forest.

Fig 8 :
Pied Imperial Pigeon
Ducula bicolor
Habitat : Coastal parkland
Location : Northern Territory, Australia

Fig 9 :
Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon
Ducula luctuosa
Habitat : Open, sparsely wooded country
Location : Tangkoko, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Notes : Imperial pigeons are amongst the largest of the group, some measuring over 50 cm in size.

Fig 10 :
Zebra Dove
Geopelia striata
Habitat : Coastal parkland
Location : Praslin Island, Seychelles

Fig 11 :
Spotted Dove
Streptopelia chinenesis
Habitat : Wooded, residential area
Location : Yio Chu Kang, Singapore