An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 26 Crested Pigeon photo by Julian Robinson

Crested Pigeon

Ocyphaps lophotes


  • The Crested Pigeon has a stocky build.
  • Colour: grey-brown feathers that become pinker on the underparts. It has a grey head with a noticeable thin black crest, and red eyes with pink-red rings around them. Its wings have black bars and glossy green and purple patches. Its bill is dark grey and its legs and feet are pink.
  • Size: 30–35 cm 


  • Call: a repeated “whoop” sound.
  • Diet: mainly native seeds, as well as seeds of introduced crops and weeds, plus some leaves and insects. It feeds with others in a group, and also congregates to drink at waterholes. Feeding and drinking can occur at any time, but is most common in the morning and evening.
  • Flight: if startled, it takes to the air with a distinctive whistling flight, and glides with down-turned wings. Upon landing, it raises its tail high in the air.
  • Breeding: occurs at any time of the year but most commonly from September to March. It builds a delicate nest of twigs in a tree or bush, usually several metres above the ground. Two white eggs are incubated by both the male and female. The young birds hatch after 18–21 days, are cared for by both parents, then leave the nest after 20–25 days. A female can have more than one brood a year. 

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Nesting (and, if possible: bird in nest, bird on eggs, bird with chicks, bird feeding begging chicks). 

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

From August through to March, although breeding can occur at any time of the year.

Where To Look

  • Throughout most of mainland Australia.
  • In urban and rural areas in grasslands, forests, farmland, parks and gardens, but not in dense forests. It needs to drink every day so is usually found near water.
  • Look near trees and a source of water.

Crested Pigeon compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Crested Pigeon compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



Crome, F and Shields, J 1992. Parrots & Pigeons of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.

Strahan, J (ed) 1976. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. Reader's Digest Services P/L, Sydney.

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  1. What Else?

    • Spinifex Pigeon: smaller (20–24 cm) with cinnamon coloured feathers and a bright red patch on its face.
    • Topknot Pigeon: larger (40–46 cm) with a shaggy, red-brown crest that is droopy rather than erect like the Crested Pigeon’s. Also, it is rarely found on the ground. 
  1. Did You Know?

    The whistling sound heard when the Crested Pigeon is flying is made by air passing over a modified primary feather on its wing.

    All pigeons feed their young "milk", which is rich in protein and has a higher fat content than cow’s milk. This liquid is produced by the flaking off and liquefying of skin in the bird’s crop (a pouch in its throat).

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

  1. Listen to the Call