Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Grey-capped Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)


French: Colombine turvert German: Graukappen-Glanztaube Spanish: Palomita esmeralda cabecigrís
Other common names: Common Emerald Dove, Emerald Dove (when lumped with C. longirostris)

Columba indica


, 1758,



Hitherto considered conspecific with C. longirostris, but here treated as a separate species. C. longirostris differs in having forehead and supercilium white vs buffy-maroon (3); crown to hindneck sharply defined pale grey vs poorly defined slaty grey (2); white shoulder patches clearly much smaller (2); and rusty-rufous in primaries much less pronounced (ns[2]). Also closely related to C. stephani, with which largely allopatric; distributions suggest that it may be expanding its range at the expense of latter, for example in Moluccas and W Papuan Is. Nicobar race augusta is intermediate between nominate and maxima, and perhaps better merged in one or other of these. Other races described include salimalii (SW India), yamashinai (S Ryukyus), formosana (Taiwan), sanghirensis (Sangihe) and nana (Peleng, in Banggai Is), but all seem to be based on very minor differences from nominate. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. i. indica (Linnaeus, 1758) – Indian Subcontinent (S from Himalayan foothills), S China (SE Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Hainan), Taiwan and S Ryukyu Is, and S through SE Asia and Philippines to Greater and Lesser Sundas (E to Alor), Sulawesi, Moluccas (except SE part) and W Papuan Is.
  • C. i. robinsoni E. C. S. Baker, 1928 – Sri Lanka.
  • C. i. maxima E. J. O. Hartert, 1931 – Andaman Is.
  • C. i. augusta Bonaparte, 1855 – Nicobar Is.
  • C. i. natalis Lister, 1889 – Christmas I (S of Java).
  • C. i. minima E. J. O. Hartert, 1931 – islands of Numfor, Biak and Mios Num (Geelvink Bay), in NW New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–27 cm; 89–171 g, 100–131 g (natalis). Male has forehead and stripe over and extending behind eye white; crown and nape bluish grey; neck and... read more


    Most common vocalization is a repeated, low-pitched, mournful hoot, preceded by a soft hiccup, “ti-... read more


    Occupies a wide variety of forest types and adjacent habitats, including primary rainforest, wet... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily seeds and fallen fruits, with some invertebrates (insects, including termites, and snails); faecal analysis in Hong Kong (n... read more


    Breeds year-round in many areas, often with peak during late dry season through wet season; eggs and young recorded Feb, Apr–Sept in... read more


    Apparently sedentary or locally nomadic in most parts of its range. Local movements (principally,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. The only population estimate is for race natalis on Christmas I, where c. 1000 pairs remain, and eggs and young eaten by rats, and this... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Kirwan, G.M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Grey-capped Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 January 2020).