Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Near Threatened

Japanese Woodpigeon (Columba janthina)


French: Pigeon violet German: Veilchentaube Spanish: Paloma japonesa
Other common names: Japanese Pigeon

Columba janthina


, 1830,



Belongs to a group of dark-coloured, iridescent Asian and Australasian forms, including †C. versicolor, †C. jouyi, C. vitiensis and C. leucomela; C. pallidiceps may also be related. Race nitens appears highly distinctive in recent illustrations#R#R, but specimen material at NHMUK shows weaker differences, with nitens appearing slightly smaller (measurements not taken; score estimated no more than 1) and with more extensive (but variable) pinkish gloss on crown and throat (score 2); this variability of nitens may be related to age, wear, sex, individuals or geography, and greater sampling (also of vocalizations) is needed to resolve this issue; moderate genetic differences have been noted#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. j. janthina Temminck, 1830 – Japanese Woodpigeon – small islands SW of South Korea and off Japan S to N Ryukyu Is.
  • C. j. stejnegeri (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1923) – S Ryukyu Is (Sakishima Is).
  • C. j. nitens (Stejneger, 1887) – Red-headed Woodpigeon – Ogasawara Is: Bonin and Volcano (Iwo) Is groups.
  • Descriptive notes

    37–43·5 cm; 397 g. Black all over, with conspicuous green iridescence on neck, and purple on head, mantle and rump; limited amounts of bronze, purple and green... read more


    Advertising call of nominate race a hooted phrase repeated at intervals, with the first note... read more


    Inhabits dense subtropical and warm temperate evergreen broadleaf forests on islands; known to be... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mostly on Camellia seeds, but also takes other seeds, buds and fruits. In Ogasawara Is now appears to heavily rely on... read more


    Season extends Feb–Sept, but eggs or young have even been recorded for late autumn and winter. Nest typically in hole in tree or... read more


    Possibly a migrant in some parts of its range; birds have been found in mid-Oct on Hegura Juna in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Still relatively common on Izu Is, although numbers have declined considerably since 1950s. Past presence on... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., de Juana, E., Sharpe, C.J. & Boesman, P. (2019). Japanese Woodpigeon (Columba janthina). 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 8 December 2019).