Crested Pigeon

Ocyphaps lophotes

Crested Pigeon. Photo: John Spiers

Crested Pigeons are the outback bird that has made good in the big city. Originally found in lightly wooded grassland, they were able to expand their range into the southern more densely forested areas as these were cleared for agriculture. They have also thrived in towns and cities having moved in to the more settled areas following droughts. They have, for example, become numerous in Adelaide after droughts in the early 1980s.

Crested Pigeons live on the seeds and leaves of a variety of herbs and grasses, both native and introduced, and particularly on cultivated grains from spills and feeders for domestic animals. They feed on the ground in small flocks which may coalesce into larger flocks near water.

Potentially they can breed all year round but very little breeding occurs in the winter months from April to July. The nest is a typical flimsy platform of twigs on which it lays 2 glossy white eggs. In courting they give a very noticeable, exaggerated bow with spread tail feathers.


Males and females are alike without any seasonal variation. The most distinctive feature is the long, pointed, grey-black crest which may be held erect or lie flattened along the nape. The body is light grey overall, washed pinkish brown on the sides of the neck, mantle and upper breast. The lesser and median secondary coverts have distinct black barring. The greater secondary coverts bear iridescent green, bronze and purple wing patches. The uppertail is blackish-brown with slight green or purple iridescence with a narrow white tip. The bill is grey-black, there are thick pink-red orbital rings and the legs and feet are pink-red. The flight is swift with a characteristic whistling sound. The tail is raised on alighting. Juvenile are similar to adults but are separable through being duller and having a shorter and more rounded crest.

Where to find it

Crested pigeons are mainly sedentary, and may be found throughout South Australia, except for the driest deserts and densest forests. Traditionally they were to be found in lightly wooded forests but are now widespread.

The Crested Pigeons is polytypic. The nominate race, O.l.lohpotes is found in most of SA , subspecies O.l.whitlocki adjacent to the West Australian border.