Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela)


French: Pigeon leucomèle German: Weißbrusttaube Spanish: Paloma blanquinegra

Columba leucomela


, 1821,

south Queensland, Australia


Most closely allied to C. vitiensis. Belongs to a group of dark-coloured, iridescent Asian and Australasian forms, including C. janthina, †C. versicolor, †C. jouyi and C. vitiensis; C. pallidiceps may also be related. Long known as C. norfolciensis, based only on a dubious description; however, an 18th century watercolour “discovered” in 1953 showed that this name more probably applied to another bird that occurred on Norfolk I at that time, possibly Chalcophaps longirostris; the name is almost certainly unidentifiable, and has now been formally suppressed#R#R#R. Monotypic.


E Australia, from Cooktown (Queensland) to Eden (New South Wales) and less frequently SE Victoria, in coastal regions and adjacent highlands.

Descriptive notes

38–42 cm; c. 420 g. Head, neck, breast and belly white, sometimes with buffy tinge, becoming slate grey on flanks, vent and undertail-coverts; upperparts slate black... read more


Advertising call a double note repeated at intervals. The first note is an emphasized short hoot,... read more


Rain forest A bird perched on a branch., gallery forest and sometimes open country with... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds on fruits and seeds. Has a muscular gizzard capable of digesting hard seeds. Important plant families in the diet include Lauraceae (... read more


Season apparently extended, based on limited data. At least 2 successive broods are sometimes reared in the same nest. Nest is flimsy... read more


Nomadic, in response to fruit availability. Little detailed information, but species may disappear... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Formerly shot in great numbers, species was protected from hunting in 1950s. Although never abundant, numbers appear to have increased since 1940s,... read more

Recommended citation

Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela). 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 22 January 2020).