Monday, November 28

Snow pigeon

   ›      ›   Snow pigeon - Columba leuconota.

The snow pigeon (Columba leuconota) belongs to the dove and pigeon family, Columbidae. These pigeon species are distributed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. The snow pigeon forages in open country, roost at night on cliffs and nests in crevices in rocks. There are two subspecies of these pigeons.

Snow pigeon - Overview

  • Scientific name: Columba leuconota
  • Species author: Vigors, 1831
  • Synonyms: Columba leuconota Vigors, 1831
  • Family: Columbidae › Columbiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Common Name: Snow pigeon
  • Other languages: Chinese: 雪鸽, French: Pigeon des neiges, German: Schneetaube, Spanish: Paloma nival, Russian: Белогрудый голубь, Japanese: ユキバト, Hindi: बर्फ कबूतर
  • Other names: Snow Pigeon
  • Distribution: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, grain, buds, bulbs, roots, shoots, berries
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Columba leuconota is closely related to Turkestan hill dove (Columba rupestris) and rock pigeon (Columba livia). The two recognized subspecies are: C. l. leuconota Vigors, 1831 and C. l. gradaria E. J. O. Hartert, 1916.


Appearance, physical description and identification

The snow pigeon (Columba leuconota) is a medium-sized bird measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 250 to 300 grams. The head is blackish slate gray. The neck collar and underparts are a contrasting white. The abdomen is ashy gray. The back is grayish brown with a white patch on the posterior region.

The scapulars and lesser wing-coverts of these pigeon species are light greyish brown in color. Their wings are pale gray with three ashy-brown cross bars. The black tail has a broad white band in the middle, curving and narrowing backwards to reach the outermost tail feathers.

Indian birds - Image of Snow pigeon iin flight - Columba leuconota
Birds of India - Image of Snow pigeon in flight - Columba leuconota
Birds of India - Image of Snow pigeon - Columba leuconota
Indian birds - Image of Snow pigeon - Columba leuconota
Indian birds - Snow pigeon - Columba leuconota
Birds of India - Snow pigeon - Columba leuconota

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The snow pigeon species are distributed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. The subspecies C. l. leuconota is distributed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. The pigeon subspecies C. l. gradaria is distributed in Bhutan, North Myanmar and China (Tibet, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces).

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of snow pigeon in Nepal are, Tamur valley and watershed, Shey-Phoksundo National Park, Sagarmatha National Park, Rara National Park, Makalu Barun National Park, Langtang National Park, Kanchenjungha Conservation Area, horpatan Hunting Reserve and Annapurna Conservation Area. The IBA of the pigeon in Tajikistan is Drumkul Lake. The IBA in Kyrgyzstan is Eastern Alai and in Afghanistan is Small Pamir.

Ecosystem and habitat

The snow pigeon species live in alpine zone (alpine tundra, rocky hill sides and sequestered valleys) in montane ecosystem dominated by grasses and low-growing shrubs. They are observed up to the snow line. They forage in the undulating plains and hill sides and roost in the cliffs and rocky ledges. They do not normally occur in forests.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of snow pigeon consists mainly of seeds, grains, grass, shoots, buds, flowers, berries and legumes.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these pigeon species is from May to July in most of their range. They often breed in large colonies, nesting in crevices, cracks or caves in the face of cliffs or rock ledges. The nest is an untidy platform of sticks, grass and feathers. The clutch usually contains two eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These pigeon species are altitudinal migrant birds. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding. These pigeon species have been found to descent to lower altitudes from the upland snow covered plains in winter.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the snow pigeon (Columba leuconota) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. Their generation length is 5.6 years. These species have large range and population.

The snow pigeon does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable neither under the population trend criterion nor under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the snow pigeon (Columba leuconota) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".


Taxonomy and scientific classification of Columba leuconota
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Columbiformes
Family:Columbidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Columba
Species:C. leuconota
Binomial name:Columba leuconota
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/18574586073/
Image author: Koshy Koshy | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 2016-11-28)
2.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snow-Pigeon_Nathang_Valley_Sikkim_13.05.2014.jpg
Image author: Dibyendu Ash | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Columba_leuconota_(Bhutan).jpg
Image author: Ron Knight | License: (CC BY 2.0 (as on 2016-11-28)
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