Saturday 15 June
Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii)
Nilgiri wood-pigeon fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Nilgiri wood-pigeon description
The most striking feature of the beautiful Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) is the black and white checkerboard pattern on the back of its neck. Unlike its sometimes unpopular urban cousin, the rock pigeon (Columba livia), which is a familiar inhabitant of cities and parks, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon is a rather more rare bird, endemic to the Western Ghats in India (2).
The adult male Nilgiri wood-pigeon has dark brown or black plumage with a wonderful maroon sheen on its upperparts (2) and a darker grey or black chest and tail. Its face is also grey. The female and juvenile Nilgiri wood pigeons are slightly less glossy, lacking the metallic sheen to some degree, but otherwise appear very similar to the adult male (3).
- Also known as
- Nilgiri wood pigeon. Top
Conservation International – Biodiversity Hotspots:
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Evergreen forest consists mainly of evergreen trees, which retain leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous trees, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms and spiders.
IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
- Hildyard, A. (Ed.) (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York.
- Baker, E.C.S. (1913) Indian Pigeons and Doves. Witherby & Co, London.
- BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
BirdLife International (November, 2010)
- Somasundaram, S. and Vijayan, L. (2010) Foraging ecology of the globally threatened Nilgiri wood pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) in the Western Ghats, India. Chinese Birds, 1(1): 9-21.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Nilgiri wood-pigeon biology
Usually found moving about in the daytime, alone or in pairs, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon feeds primarily on fruit, which it forages for in the upper and middle canopy of the forest. It also eat seeds, flowers, plant buds (6) and, less frequently, small invertebrates and snails (2). Although it usually simply picks these food items off a plant, it is also known to throw itself forward to gain fruit from an out-of-reach branch (2).
The breeding season of the Nilgiri wood pigeon stretches from March to July (5). Each clutch typically contains just a single egg and the chick is fed on ‘crop milk’, a secretion from the thickened lining of a pouch in the bird’s gullet. Both the male and female produce this highly nutritious substance to feed the young (2).Top
Nilgiri wood-pigeon range
The Nilgiri wood-pigeon is one of only 16 bird species endemic to the Western Ghatsof south-western India(4). Its range stretches from north-western Maharashtra, souththrough to Karnataka and Goa, to southern Kerala and western Tamil Nadu(5).Top
Nilgiri wood-pigeon habitat
The Nilgiri wood-pigeon inhabits moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, including densely wooded ravines and hollows known as ‘sholas’. It occurs primarily in foothills and mountains, up to 2,250 metres above sea level (5). It may also be found in Eucalyptus and Pinus plantations, but does not breed in these habitats (5).Top
Nilgiri wood-pigeon status
The Nilgiri wood-pigeon is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Nilgiri wood-pigeon threats
In the past, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon was threatened by hunting for sport and food. Today, the major threat to this species is habitat destruction (5).
The clearance of land for agriculture and human settlements, combined with the cutting down of trees for fuel and building materials, has resulted in a significant decline in forest cover in the Western Ghats (5). In the Kerala region alone, a shocking 47 percent of evergreen and semi-evergreen forest was lost between 1961 and 1988, and forest cover has continued to decline since (5).Top
Nilgiri wood-pigeon conservation
The Nilgiri wood-pigeon is protected by law in India and it occurs in sixteen protected areas, the majority of which are in Kerala. These consist of ten wildlife sanctuaries, three national parks, two reserve forests and one tiger reserve (5).
To help ensure the successful conservation of the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, the seasonal movements of this species need to be researched and key sites need to be identified and protected (5).
Furthermore, it is essential that the sustainable exploitation of forests throughout the Western Ghats is promoted. Local communities should be encouraged to seek alternatives to deforestation and to restore disturbed natural habitats (5).Top
Find out more
Discover more about conservation in the Western Ghats:
Learn more about bird conservation:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.