Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Nilgiri Imperial-pigeon (Ducula cuprea)


French: Carpophage des Nilgiri German: Nilgirifruchttaube Spanish: Dúcula de las Nilgiri

Carpophaga cuprea


, 1840,

Wayanad, Kerala


Hitherto considered conspecific with D. badia, but differs on account of dark vs pale iris (3); pinker-grey underparts shading to slightly rusty lower belly (2); greyer-pink mantle and head, with no grey crown, more as in D. b. insignis (1); slightly shorter wing yet mean bill length slightly longer (vs insignis, closest geographical representative of badia), effect size –0·91 for wing (1), 0·6 for bill (1); moreover, the terminal tailband of cuprea is not so broad as that of D. b. insignis (mean 38·5 vs 45·5 mm, effect size –1·7, ns[1]). Vocalizations are inadequately documented#R; research therefore needed. Probably closely related also to D. lacernulata and D. cineracea. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Western Ghats of SW India from Goa and NW Karnataka S to Kerala.

Descriptive notes

43–51 cm. Vinous-grey crown, with strong cheek/throat contrast, pinkish wash on ear-coverts and foreneck, grey nape and upper mantle, dark brown lower mantle, and strongly... read more


Gives a deep, moaning, booming or crooning “uk-ook ook; huk-hoo hoo” or “goo-goo-goo” in crescendo... read more


Evergreen forest and dense deciduous forest at all levels, from plains to 2000 m, but occurs mainly... read more

Food and feeding

Frugivorous, favouring figs (Ficus) and wild nutmegs (Myristica); also visits salt-licks. Usually observed in small... read more


Very few data. Season lasts Jan–May, otherwise no known differences from D. badia.


Undertakes mainly short-range and altitudinal movements seasonally in response to fruit... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally endangered (Least Concern). Widespread and locally numerous: a density estimate of 12·3 birds/km² reported in forests S of Palakkad Gap in Kerala (extreme S... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Nilgiri Imperial-pigeon (Ducula cuprea). 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 30 March 2020).