Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Madagascar Turtle-dove (Nesoenas picturatus)


French: Pigeon de Madagascar German: Madagaskarturteltaube Spanish: Tórtola malgache
Other common names: Malagasy Turtle-dove

Columba Picturata


, 1813,



In past, normally placed in Streptopelia, but more heavily built and has longer legs; alternatively placed in genus Columba, where linked with C. delegorguei. Recently shown to be sister-species of N. mayeri. Internal taxonomy confused: in past, birds from Aldabra erroneously placed in race aldabranus (origin of type specimen presumably mistaken), with those of Amirantes awarded race saturatus; birds of Assumption I were awarded a separate race, assumptionis; birds of Chagos Is sometimes awarded race chuni, but considered most likely to be hybrid picturatus x comorensis, possibly introduced from ships, although hybrid origin has been questioned#R. Extinct †rostratus differs from closest geographical and morphological form coppingeri by maroon vs pinkish-grey crown and mantle (1); upperparts in males dark grey-brown vs pale brownish-grey with chestnut on carpal area and purplish nape and mantle (2); largely grey vs purplish-pink breast, belly and tips of black neck spots (1); crimson vs purple cere, eyelids and feet (NHMUK specimen labels) (ns[1]); smaller size (effect size –2.75, score 2); larger bill (effect size 1.795, score 1). Despite score here of 7, heavy hybridization with introduced S. p. picturatus means no check of characters now possible. Three extant subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. p. rostratus (Bonaparte, 1855) – Seychelles (Aride, Cousin, Cousine and Bird I; formerly Praslin and Mahé)#R.
  • N. p. aldabranus (P. L. Sclater, 1872) – Amirantes Is#R.
  • N. p. coppingeri (Sharpe, 1884) – Aldabra, South I (Cosmoledo Atoll) and Glorieuses Is (N of Madagascar); formerly also on Menai (Cosmoledo), Astove and Assumption.
  • N. p. comorensis (E. Newton, 1877) – Comoro Is.
  • N. p. picturatus (Temminck, 1813) – Madagascar.
  • Introduced (picturatus) to Seychelles, Amirantes, Reunion and Mauritius; also (probably hybrids) to Diego Garcia I, in Chagos Archipelago.

    Descriptive notes

    28 cm; 146–188 g. Head bluish grey; sides and back of neck slightly iridescent mauve-pink or greenish mauve-tipped feathers with black bases, these feathers slightly... read more


    Advertising call a repeated coo that increases in pitch and amplitude towards the end (dropping and... read more


    Mainly forest but also occurs in degraded woodland, cropland and woodland near human habitation. In... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists mostly of seeds, but species also takes fallen fruit and some invertebrates; feeds on seeds of Castor and ... read more


    Nesting Jul–Feb in Madagascar; Oct–Nov in Comoros. Nest is a flat structure consisting of interlaced twigs, situated 1·5... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout Madagascar, except on central High Plateau; hunted locally, and sometimes kept in captivity. On a local level some insular races... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Madagascar Turtle-dove (Nesoenas picturatus). 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 15 December 2019).