Nicobar Pigeon

Scientific Name: Caloenas nicobarica

The Nicobar Pigeon is one of the most beautiful of the many species of pigeons or doves and is the only living member of the genus Caloenus. It is found in the Islands of Nicobar, south west peninsular Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Solomans and palau. Once known to be found in abundance in its range, their numbers in the wild are declining as they are frequently captured for pet trade and hunted for food.

Slightly larger than other pigeons at 40 cm, it has a dark slaty grey body with lustrous metallic blue-green and copper-bronze upperparts. It can easily be distinguished by its glistening mane-like neck hackles and sharply contrasting white tail coverts and tail. Females are smaller in size than males with shorter neck hackles and brown under parts. Youngs are born dull grey without the neck hackles and a bronzy green tail instead of white.

It is known to remain solitary as well as is found in flocks of 20-30. Though its flight is swift and powerful, and capable of sustaining long distances, it prefers to feed entirely on the ground, picking fleshy fruits and seeds off the forest floor. When in groups, they communicate with each other by uttering harsh guttural croaks. During the breeding season from January to March, females make nests by loosely putting together twigs high up on evergreen trees, where they can safely lay eggs.

This species is classified as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List and listed in Appendix 1 of CITES as their numbers in the wild are on the decline. These birds are captured for food, pet trade and their gizzard stones which are used to make jewellery. Their distribution is also being affected by habitat loss as the islands which they inhabit are being cleared for plantations, and also being colonized by rats, cats and other alien predators.

  1. BirdLife International 2008. Caloenas nicobarica. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <>. Downloaded on 23 February 2011.
  2. Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book
  3. Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley, Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, 1983, Oxford University Press.
© Rajat Bhargava
Nicobar Pigeon
© Rajat Bhargava
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