Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Torresian Imperial-pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa)


French: Carpophage argenté German: Kaiserfruchttaube Spanish: Dúcula australiana
Other common names: Australian Pied Imperial-pigeon

Carpophaga spilorrhoa

G. R. Gray

, 1858,

Aru Islands


Clearly very closely related to D. bicolor (which see), D. subflavescens and D. luctuosa; the notion that yellow bill is a constant character of present species is not borne out by museum material, which describes bills as “blue slate”, “slate-blue”, “greenish-slate, yellow tip”, “olive-yellow”, “yellow”, “yellow, cere battleship grey”, etc., suggesting perhaps an age-related or seasonal condition. Often united with D. subflavescens but differs on account of its white vs yellowish plumage (3), grey-tinged vs black primary underwing-coverts (2), and narrower black tips of outer tail (2)#R. Proposed races include tarara (SC New Guinea) and melvillensis (Melville I) but these forms are confused by intergradation. Proposed form constans (Kimberley region of NW Australia) has even been considered a separate species, but is not widely accepted; herein provisionally not recognized at any level, pending further work. Monotypic.


Aru Is, and coastal New Guinea (penetrating inland along some major rivers) and islands in Geelvink Bay E to D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago, Trobriand Is, Woodlark Is and Louisiade Archipelago, then S to N & NE Australia (Kimberley region and NW Northern Territory E to N & C Cape York Peninsula, and S down E Queensland coast to Aquila I, near Carmila).

Descriptive notes

38–44 cm; 378–550 g. General plumage white, usually with creamy-white or grey suffusion, especially on head and neck; outerwing and secondaries black, with silver... read more


Not especially vocal. A low, hollow, low-pitched, downslurred “hoooo” or bisyllabic “hoo-hoooo”,... read more


Found in a variety of forested habitats, including Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and... read more

Food and feeding

Frugivorous, feeding on fruit from a variety of trees, vines and shrubs, taken arboreally. Diet well studied in Queensland and S New Guinea... read more


Breeding more seasonal than in most tropical pigeons: in Queensland and Northern Territory, season extends late Aug to Jan, with pronounced... read more


Most of the Australian population, in particular the largest subpopulation, that nests in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant but thought to be in decline as a result of habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation locally. Enormous... read more

Recommended citation

Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Torresian Imperial-pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa). 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 12 December 2019).