Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota)


French: Pigeon des neiges German: Schneetaube Spanish: Paloma nival
Other common names: Tibetan Dove

Columba leuconota


, 1831,

Himalayas (probably Nepal)


Closely related to C. livia and C. rupestris. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. leuconota Vigors, 1831 – Alai Mts (S Kyrgyzstan) S through Pamirs to Himalayas (W Afghanistan to Sikkim); only few, old and dubious records in Kazakhstan#R and the reported breeding further N (to Altai Mts)#R shown to be an error.
  • C. l. gradaria E. J. O. Hartert, 1916 – mountains of E Tibet and from E Nan Shan (Qinghai) to Yunnan, Bhutan and extreme N Myanmar.
  • Descriptive notes

    31–34 cm; 255–307 g. Head dark slate grey; neck, underparts, lower back and upper rump white; mantle, scapulars and lesser wing-coverts light greyish brown,with... read more


    Voice poorly known, but apparently quite different from closely related species. Commonest call a... read more


    Lives and roosts in colonies on rock cliffs and steep gorges in alpine zone and also above snow-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mostly on seeds of herbs, bulbils of Polygonum, bulbs of crocus, small roots and small hard seeds; takes grain near villages... read more


    May–Jul. Often breeds in large colonies. Builds a skimpy nest of sticks or matted grasses and a few feathers, shaped into a platform... read more


    In winter both races move to the warmer climes of lower altitudes, occurring down to 1500 m,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Very little precise information available, due largely to occupation of bleak, inaccessible areas in zone that has received relatively limited... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota). 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 13 December 2019).