Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Metallic Pigeon (Columba vitiensis)


French: Pigeon à gorge blanche German: Weißwangentaube Spanish: Paloma gorjiblanca
Other common names: White-throated Pigeon

Columba vitiensis

Quoy and Gaimard

, 1830,



Belongs to a group of dark-coloured, iridescent Asian and Australasian forms, including C. janthina, †C. versicolor, †C. jouyi and C. leucomela; C. pallidiceps may also be related. Two of the geographically extreme taxa, metallica of the Lesser Sundas and castaneiceps of Samoa, appear the most distinctive: metallica by its dull mid-grey not white or pale grey throat (but anthracina of Palawan is similar, so no score), and dull darkish-grey belly to vent (3), castaneiceps by its distinctly brownish crown (3), and slaty-grey underparts (2); vocal evidence in both cases is needed. Race castaneiceps has recently been proposed as a full species, on account both to plumage and voice#R. Validity of race †godmanae uncertain, as no specimen exists, the description being based on a painting. Proposed race mendeni (Taliabu, Sula Is) no longer regarded as valid. Eight extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. v. griseogularis (Walden & E. L. Layard, 1872) – Philippines, Sulu Archipelago, and islands off N Borneo.
  • C. v. anthracina (Hachisuka, 1939) – Palawan, probably Calauit, and possibly also some islands off N Borneo.
  • C. v. metallica (Temminck, 1835) – Lesser Sundas.
  • C. v. halmaheira (Bonaparte, 1855) – Banggai and Sula Is through Moluccas and W Papuan Is to New Guinea, and Bismarck Archipelago then on to Louisiade Archipelago and Solomon Is.
  • C. v. leopoldi (Tristram, 1879) – Vanuatu.
  • C. v. hypoenochroa (Gould, 1856) – New Caledonia, I of Pines and Loyalty Is.
  • C. v. vitiensis Quoy & Gaimard, 1830 – Fiji.
  • C. v. godmanae (Mathews, 1915) – Lord Howe I.
  • C. v. castaneiceps Peale, 1848 – Samoa, on Savaii, Apolima, Manono and Upolu.
  • Descriptive notes

    37–41 cm; male 345–430 g, female 268–511 g. A large, dark, heavily built pigeon; back, wings and tail dark grey with variable amounts of greenish to... read more


    Rarely heard, but considered to be most vocal in the early morning. Two or three very slow, low-... read more


    Occurs in a wide variety of forest types, from lowlands to cloud forest, reaching 2750 m in Papua... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits, buds, and seeds; also reported to take caterpillars and snails. Typically forages in bushes and trees, but sometimes feeds on the... read more


    Little information on season except from Vanuatu, where species breeds Sept–Feb, occasionally Jul–Aug; a nestling taken in May... read more


    Apparently somewhat nomadic, undertaking irregular local movements in search of food. Some evidence... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Apparently relatively uncommon or rare throughout much of its range, e.g. only 1 record from E Highlands of New Guinea, but no... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Metallic Pigeon (Columba vitiensis). 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 14 December 2019).