Nilgiri wood pigeon

   ›      ›   Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii.

The Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) belongs to the family of doves and pigeons, Columbidae.

These pigeon species are endemic to Southern India. These Nilgiri wood pigeon species are distributed in the Western Ghats in southwestern India. These pigeons are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Nilgiri Wood Pigeon Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Nilgiri wood pigeon - Overview

  • Scientific name: Columba elphinstonii
  • Species author: (Sykes, 1832)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Ptilinopus Elphinstonii Sykes, 1832, Alsocomus elphinstonii
  • Family: Columbidae › Columbiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Nilgiri wood pigeon, Chinese: 灰头林鸽, French: Pigeon d’Elphinstone, German: Nilgiritaube, Spanish: Paloma de los Nilgiris, Russian: Нильгирийский голубь, Japanese: カノコモリバト, Tamil: Nilagiri Kattu Pura
  • Other names: Nilgiri Woodpigeon
  • Distribution: Western Ghats in southwestern India
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, buds, flowers, snails
  • IUCN status listing: Vulnerable (VU)
The Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) is closely related to ashy wood pigeon (Columba pulchricollis) and Sri Lanka wood pigeon (Columba torringtoniae).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) is a large pigeon, measuring 35 to 40 cm in length and weighing 380 grams. The head region and underparts are bluish gray. The mantle is purple maroon. The hind neck has black and white pattern caused by black feathers with white tips. The tail is dark gray. The base of the bill is red and the tip of the bill is pale yellow. The feet are red. Their call is a low-frequency hooting sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii
Birds of India - Image of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii
Birds of India - Photo of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii
Indian birds - Picture of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii
Indian birds - Image of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii
Birds of India - Photo of Nilgiri wood pigeon - Columba elphinstonii

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Nilgiri wood pigeon species are endemic to India, occurring in the Western Ghats mountains in southwest India. They are distributed in the states of west Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra.

Some of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the Nilgiri wood pigeon species are, Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary, Tirunelveli Reserve Forest, Thiashola, Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary, Shola around Kodaikanal, Silent Valley National Park, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Nandi Hills and Kudremukh National Park.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Nilgiri wood pigeon species are highly forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 50 to 2250 meters. They are virtually confined to moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forest ecosystems.

The Nilgiri wood pigeon species inhabit tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical moist montane forests, moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, shola forests, densely wooded ravines, foothill forests, plantations and on rare occasions, moist deciduous forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Nilgiri wood pigeon species is mostly wild fruits. Wild fruits, berries, seeds, flowers and leaf buds are their primary food. They feed mainly by gleaning on the outer branches of the middle and upper canopy.

Sometimes, they decent to the forest floor to forage on fallen fruits. They have been observed to feed on snails and invertebrates. They also ingest soil, perhaps to supplement mineral nutrients or aid digestion.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these species is from March to July in the Western Ghats. Most of the breeding takes place in shola forests above 2,000 meter levels. The nest is a flimsy platform made of twigs. The clutch usually has one egg.

Migration and movement patterns

The Nilgiri wood pigeon is a non-migrant resident bird. Post breeding, the pigeon juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range. Dearth of food may make them lead a nomadic life.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) is estimated to be around 3,500 to 15,000 individual birds. The overall population size of these pigeon species is considered to be decreasing at a moderate rate. Throughout its range it is reported to be nearly common. The generation length is 5.6 years. Their distribution size is about 334,000

The Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) has approached the thresholds for being Vulnerable under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and also under the population size criterion. Degradation and fragmentation of forests and hunting for food and sport are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these pigeon species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the pigeon species and has listed it as "Vulnerable". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Columba elphinstonii
Species:C. elphinstonii
Binomial name:Columba elphinstonii
IUCN status listing:
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Image author: Navaneeth Kishor | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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Image author: N. A. Naseer / | License: CC BY-SA 2.5 IN
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Image author: Atanu Mondal | License: CC BY-SA 2.5
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