Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Pied Imperial-pigeon (Ducula bicolor)


French: Carpophage blanc German: Zweifarben-Fruchttaube Spanish: Dúcula bicolor
Other common names: Nutmeg Imperial-pigeon

Columba bicolor


, 1786,

New Guinea


Clearly very closely related to D. spilorrhoa, D. subflavescens and D. luctuosa; species limits in this group are unclear, and all four sometimes considered conspecific (a position which the scoring system used herein would seem likely to endorse), while other authors recognize up to five species; further study of genetic, morphological and acoustic details required in order to clarify the situation. There is evidence that nominate bicolor and proposed taxon “melanura“ (sometimes classified as a race of bicolor) occur sympatrically on Kai, Ambon, Bacan, Halmahera and perhaps other islands, which has been interpreted as evidence that the forms are reproductively isolated full species or, conversely, that they are mere colour morphs; latter view followed here, particularly as differences are minor and appear to be individually variable, with many intermediate forms occurring. In past, birds of Moluccas sometimes separated as race siebersi. Monotypic.


Coasts and small islands from Andaman and Nicobar Is, W Myanmar, Malay Peninsula, peninsular Thailand and Cambodia S & E through Indonesia and Philippines to W Papuan Is (Salawati, Misool) and coastal Vogelkop (NW New Guinea), and Aru Is.

Descriptive notes

35–42 cm; 365–510 g. Pure white, more or less tinged with yellow, except black primaries, primary-coverts, outer secondaries and tail; black sometimes has silvery... read more


Diverse. Calls include an occasional low, drawn-out ‘rruuu’; a loud, deep, groaning... read more


Coastal forests, mangroves and coconut plantations. Typically nests and roosts on small offshore... read more

Food and feeding

Frugivorous; feeds on a variety of fruits and berries, including wild figs and the large fruits of wild nutmegs (Myristica).... read more


Data on seasonality is scanty: breeds Dec–Mar in Andaman and Nicobar Is; half-fledged young collected on Seram in Sept and Nov; all... read more


Reported to make seasonal movements in some areas, e.g. Wallacea, but detailed information lacking... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is not known but is large; in Australia it is estimated at 500,000 birds. Can be locally abundant, e.g. in... read more

Recommended citation

Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Pied Imperial-pigeon (Ducula bicolor). 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).