Pigeon - Columbidae

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The family group of Columbidae covers birds like Pigeon & Doves, this group has 310 birds world wide of which 30 of them in South east Asia. The Pigeon themselves are divided into 3 groupings 1] Wood Pigeons, 2] Green Pigeons and lastly 3] Imperial Pigeons.

On this page, from that that larger number of Pigeon found in South East Asia, I have weed out only the Pigeons which were reported as sighted in Malaysia before and it is summarized as the list below

White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis  

Green Pigeons

Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica   Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon Treron fulvicollis
      Little Green Pigeon Treron olax

Imperial Pigeons

  Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea   Orange-breasted Green Pigeon Treron bicinctus
Grey Imperial Pigeon Ducula pickeringii   Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra
Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia   Large Green Pigeon Treron capellei
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor   Yellow-vented Green Pigeon Treron seimundi
      Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon Treron sphenurus

At the first glance, it is  a long list of names of Pigeons that could be sighted in Malaysia. Most of which are Green Pigeon, and convey the impression that there must be lots of jungle Pigeons in Malaysia.

In contrast, lower down on this page, the comparatively low number of pictures of pigeons that I have in my possession. This scenario will serve as an indicator as to how few the numbers of species that could be spotted.

There are plenty of domesticated  pigeon flying in the urban area. Yes, there are also a good number of wild Pigeon seen too, particularly in the rural area. Unfortunately, these commonly seen Pigeon, quite likely is one belonging to a single species of the Green Pigeon - the Pink-necked Green Pigeon. On rare occasions,  a couple of other wild species of this group, could be sighted on a chance meeting basis.

Beside the more often seen Green Pigeon, there are the bigger Pigeons. Really large Imperial Pigeons, for example, the Mountain Imperials which is fairly common in the mountains, whilst on the contrary, the Green Imperial from the dense lowland forest is very rare. The Nicobar Pigeon rumored to exist in the Langkawai Island were hardly seen.

Lastly on the topic of spotting wild Pigeons, we are all conditioned to see the domesticated Pigeons gathering in large flock in city squares or in front of Indian temples. These are actually Rock Pigeon and the feral cousins, they are good size at 33 Cm. It is etched into our memory that we associated Pigeon as stocky rounded birds. In the field the Green Pigeons are more slender, some even smaller.


Green Pigeons

1. Little Green Pigeon   Treron olax

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 20 Cm. This is not a common Pigeon that can be seen easily. Judging from my encounters, the birds shy away forest edge and prefers deep jungle. This bird when seen alone with no other birds comparison of its size is difficult to gauge. At 20 cm, this Pigeon do not appear small. Still having the typical Pigeon profile. It has bluish grey hood, maroon mantle and most distinctive that orange patch on the upper breast.

 Distribution :- The birds originates from the Greater Sundas but now a resident in Malaysia and South Thailand. Though a resident, this bird is not seen often.
 Habitats & preferences:- The bird is a lowland forest bird that prefers wetlands but it also moves up to the hilly slopes. From what I had seen so far, I think it is environment of low hills with a wet forested floor would be the best bet.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-So far all the sightings were made in swampy areas but inland forest. Sighting in the same place not repeated. So I cannot place any name of places.
 My personal jottings :-

Again one of those birds that I hardly met up with, what was seen and the information collected during these few incidents were basic. This also means I have little to add apart from what is known from the book. The pictures on the page was taken from a wetlands of Rengit.


This Pigeon's call :-    and Video:-

Little Green Pigeon  # 1

Little Green Pigeon  # 2

Little Green Pigeon  # 3

Little Green Pigeon  # 4

Little Green Pigeon  # 5

Little Green Pigeon  # 6

Little Green Pigeon  # 7

Little Green Pigeon  # 8

Little Green Pigeon  # 9

Little Green Pigeon  # 10

Little Green Pigeon  # 11

Little Green Pigeon  # 12

Little Green Pigeon  # 16

Little Green Pigeon  # 17

Little Green Pigeon  # 18

Little Green Pigeon  # 19

Little Green Pigeon  # 20

Little Green Pigeon  # 21

Little Green Pigeon  # 22

Little Green Pigeon  # 23

Little Green Pigeon  # 24

Little Green Pigeon  # 25

Little Green Pigeon  # 26

Little Green Pigeon  # 27

2. Orange-breasted Green Pigeon   Treron bicinctus

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 29 Cm. This is another Pigeon that is not commonly seen. I do not have sufficient information to elaborate. Marginally smaller than the Pink-necked Pigeon, when it comes to measurement. This bird bears a lot of similarity with the more common Pink-necked Pigeon, so chances of mistaken identity is great. Main difference is green head with slight grey stretch on its nape. The pink on the breast much less significant but the Orange patch is prominent. For the female, it is closer in looks with that of the Pink-necked except without the grey patch on the crown and nape.

 Distribution :-   This is the bird of the whole Indian sub-Continent and in Java & Bali. Very rarely sighted in Malaysia.
 Habitats & preferences:- Unlike the Pink-necked which is basically a mangrove bird, this Orange-breasted is more a lowland forest edge and that of secondary forest. I would say lowland forest with few human traffic. Hardly any encounter in many years
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-The only time and only place where the pictures were taken was at the forest edge in Trenggannu. Could I say that the bird was available on the east coast?
 My personal jottings :-

I cannot tell you where to spot the bird as I am looking forward to getting more pictures. The couple of times encounter did not tell me much about their habits or habitats. I think so often, when a Pigeon is sighted while driving we would assume that they would be Pink-necked. More time should be devoted to verify for certain, otherwise would be years before getting a chance encounter where we are forced for a close examination.


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

Orange-breasted Green  Pigeon  # 1

female Green  Pigeon  # 2

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon  # 3

3. Pink-necked Green Pigeon   Treron vernans

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 cm. This is the species most often seen and also right at our own door steps. The most distinguishing markings  would  be the grey head slowly switching over to a vinous-pink nape, neck and side of breast. Leaving the central part of breast as orange. The female has an uniform green throughout. the rest of the bird with various shades of green.

 Distribution :-  The bird's home is the Sundas, Greater & Lesser, Philippines and Sulawesi. The bird is extremely common in urban garden. .
 Habitats & preferences:-This bird originally was living is the lowlands coastal swamps, scrubs, cultivated areas and Mangrove forest . Over time, they have now migrated into Parks and and domestic backyards. All attracted by their favorite fruits, those from the Macarthur's Palm.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-You need not have to try very hard to hunt for the bird. In any forest areas and low hills with fruiting trees, the bird would be there in flocks. Preferred are tiny berries which are available in abundances. A species a wild scrub of the secondary forest. There they move in small flocks up to 10 birds, when foraging in the forest. In isolation like the times they are hanging around our gardens, the bird is seen in pairs.
 My personal jottings :-

So common are they appearing in my garden that in reverse I was surprised to see them as common resident of the mangrove forest too.

Don't know whether it is common habit among Pigeons, Pink-necked in urban settings seem to be staying as a pair the whole year round. Though a common sight, they are beautiful bird with very soft murmuring song as call and not gregarious as described for Pigeon. This Pigeon in rural or forested area are moving in flocks were more sensitive to human presence. They tend to keep their safe distances and flew off when excited by human movements. This could be the fact that they were targets of the hunters.


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

These Pigeons, normally are birds of the forest, they too had found the clump of MacArthur palm trees in my garden to be good enough for their forest home. Roosting and breeding in backyard gardens.

Male Pink-necked  Green Pigeon  # 1

female Green  Pigeon  # 2

  Green Pigeon  # 3

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 4

Pink-necked  Green Pigeon  # 5

female Green Pigeon  # 6

female Green Pigeon  # 7

female Green Pigeon  # 8

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 9

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 10

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 11

female Green Pigeon  # 12

Pink-necked  Green Pigeon  # 16

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 17

Pink-neckedGreen Pigeon  # 18

female Green Pigeon  # 19

pair  Green Pigeon  # 20

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 21

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 22

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 23

Pink-necked Green Pigeon  # 24

pair  Green Pigeon  # 25

pair  Green Pigeon  # 26

pair Green Pigeon  # 27


4.Thick-billed Green Pigeon   Treron curvirostra curvirostra

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 26 Cm. This is a very well sort after species.  Very hard to encounter and do not have information of its favorite hunting ground. The little I know is that chances of meeting up in the mangrove forest seems better. The skin that brings about an unique  look on the eyes. Again with close resemblance with the Pink-necked Pigeon. To tell them apart. Diagnostic would be the thick pale greenish bill with a red base. Greenish blue eyes eye ring. Grey crown and maroon mantle.

 Distribution :- The bird originates from the foothills of Himalayas and a narrow belt in South China down to Borneo and Sumatra. The bird is also a resident of Peninsula Malaysia. The name suggest that this is a sub-species, confined to those birds seen in South Thailand and Peninsula. Though resident, with its low population, not easy to meet up with.
 Habitats & preferences:-This is the bird of deep forest preferably with hilly slopes. On the contrary, the bird was sometimes found in Mangrove forest as well..
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-The bird was seen in one environment of the deep forest in Rengit then opposite to the mangrove forest of Kuala Selangor and also top of low hills Bukit Lanjang.
 My personal jottings :-

I have hardly seen the bird properly. On all those occasion sighted, it flew off immediately upon detecting my presence. On all occasions the bird was seen as a lone bird without a partner and also not as part of a flock. I have seen the bird in a few places, mainly lowlands but dense forest. Interesting too was that this species was not spotted again in these same places. I love this beautiful Pigeon with its bright beak and "big eyes".


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

This picture above gives an impression as to how the bird was sighted. High up and far away, explain why the pictures were so few and the final quality of the whatever pictures I have is far from desired. I am still hoping for the chance meeting when the bird would be much nearer and staying longer for more pictures.


Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 1

Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 2

Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 3

Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 4

Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 5

Thick-billed Green Pigeon  # 6


Imperial Pigeon

 Imperial Pigeons are so-called as they are very large birds. Most species have light contrasting on the head, neck and belly then combined  with darker back and wings. These colors could be  shades of pinkish-gray or blue-ish gray with dark green, blue, or brown backs and wings. Imperial Pigeons dwell in trees of the undisturbed forest where they eat fruits and plant materials at the canopy.. They are also strong flyers. That's about all that we could pick up every time we meet up with the birds. Yeah! Shooting past at canopy level. Though the Green Imperial Pigeon do gather in small flock, heard but they are hardly seen

5. Green Imperial Pigeon   Ducula aenea

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 40 Cm. Another Pigeon that hard to see is this forest bird. This is definitely a huge bird with a rounded body. Still marginally smaller than the Mountain Imperial Pigeon. With identical looks of the Mountain Imperial Pigeon. The color is dark metallic green upper part. Actually has a tinge brownish gloss under different lighting. The under part with the neck and head is pale lilac or whitish looking.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird of east India, Bangladesh, Andaman Seas. Then again in South China down to the Philippines and Greater Sundas. This is a rare bird sighted occasionally in Malaysia
 Habitats & preferences:- This birds stays in the deep lowland forest.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Places where I met the birds includes the Mangrove forest where I had seen them in Matang. But the largest gathering was sighted in the deep forest in Merapoh, Gua Musang area. According to Robson, in Malaysia itself, this bird prefers coastal region more than the hills.
 My personal jottings :-

The fact that this is a large bird and logically be a fairly easy to locate. In real life situation, I think the bird moves little in its comfortable concealed perch. With the green of its body color among the thick foliage, nearly impossible to make out the exact spot. I think that so often the bird might have been where I was honestly though I tried. Just no luck. So finally meeting up with it, was only by chance when the bird changed position.


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

Green Imperial Pigeon  # 2

Green Imperial Pigeon  # 3

6. Mountain Imperial Pigeon   Ducula badia badia

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 50 Cm. Though seen more often in the mountain, I still say the chances of meeting up with the birds lies in the sub-montane areas. Surprising quite easy to spot them as they choose open area for their perch. Looking at the figure itself, obvious that the Mountain Imperial is a noticeably good size and larger than its lowland cousin. This bird is the second largest Pigeon in the group for gigantic Pigeons. Mostly purplish-maroon mantle, the head and neck whitish. Bluish grey crown and red eye ring. The beak though pale reddish is not that pronounced. The upper part  is purplish-maroon while the under part is is dull white with a strong tinge of pink.

 Distribution :-  The bird is native in areas at the foot of the Himalayas and the Greater Sundas. It is a common resident in Malaysia.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the sub-montane forest but also seen in low land forest. More often in the mountain as the name implies.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-This is a Pigeon of the deep forest usually in Sub-montane Frasers Hills and Genting Highlands itself. But this bird also visit the lowland forest. Couldn't believe it until the few pictures on the front rows were taken in Perdik, a lowland forest. The bird was there for the water hole among the large tree trunk.
 My personal jottings :-

Good memorable experiences with this bird. The birds I met on few occasions were very tame. For example, I had one that one less than 10 feet away from me. Resting and feeding. Could see from the series of pictures that the bird stayed for the photo sessions. Most times when the birds sighted and photographed, it was some safe distance off, they would stay for the photography session. But there were quite a few birds which remained in closer range and stayed for me to work on.

Have seen the bird nesting in Frasers Hills but once out of the breeding session, I have never seen it moving in pairs, let alone in a flock

Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 1

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 2

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 3

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 4

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 5

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 6

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 7

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 8

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 9

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 10

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 11

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 12

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 16

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 17

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 18

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 19

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 20

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 21

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  # 22

7. Rock Pigeon Columba livia intermedia

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 33 Cm. Often with a huge feral population this species can be considered as a junk bird. Seen often in urban area. There is a actually a good population in the wild without mixing up with the odd colors birds. This is a large and bulky bird. The pure stock birds are grey with darker head and breast. The tail is black while the wings even lighter grey in shade with 2 broad black bands. The feathers at the neck glossy and varies from green to purple under the sunlight. Then the feral birds usually have white, brown and sometimes black as their colors.

 Distribution :-  The bird's native land start from North Africa, through Middle East to the Indian sub-continent, and then northern China. The feral population is very widespread and available throughout the world.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is obviously a low land bird that prefer cliffs. Slowly they have taken a liking to the   in open areas and urban settlements.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:-This is now more often seen as an urban bird and also a  scavenger. Being fed by the local population, the bird appear in town square, in front of temples and restaurants. The birds in pair or in small group is still back in their habits of being a forest bird. they appear in open areas of secondary forest near the sea.
 My personal jottings :-

There are just too many Pigeons in public places. The authentic Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon is identified by the pale grey body and wings with two black bars on each wing. The rest of the Pigeons in varying colors that we see are either domestic or feral birds. The domestic Pigeon Columba livia domestica started off as a Rock Pigeon and over 5,000 years, just like the way how the domestic poultry evolves becomes a stock of its own.

Rock Pigeon usually in pair are still wild birds that prefers rocky cliffs in semi open area. These birds are sedentary and rarely leave their local areas. These original "environment" with birds could  still be picked up in the more rural area. A good place would be Batu Ferringgi in Penang. There are cliffs and  rocks, its was nice for me enjoying the sights with its feral cousins. Of course we are bombarded by the second and another group, the domesticated  Pigeon found the town square. They are used as pets and homing Pigeon and another name for them - fancy Pigeons. They are trained to alter their sedated habits for long distance traveling.

Lastly, many domestic Pigeon were released or escaped to form the 3rd and unwanted group of feral Pigeon. Feral pigeons live in an artificial environment and they too have another local name - Rat Pigeons. They have lived in our towns for so long now that it is hard to say they are not native. They are treated like  pariahs as they do not have fix habitats and the townspeople who feed them made them. They are tough birds as homing Pigeons which were well taken off in the past and later joined the feral Pigeon  could not survive their lifestyle.

The scarcity of the pure wild species is partly due to interbreeding with feral birds.

Other than the domestic fowl which have evolved, the Rock Pigeon is one bird that is not deliberately domesticated but staying together with humans on their own. Unfortunately, there is a larger feral population and their presence among the group gives an impression that these are home bred birds.


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-
Rock Pigeon  # 1 Rock Pigeon  # 2 Rock Pigeon  # 3
Rock Pigeon  # 4 Rock Pigeon  # 5 Rock Pigeon  #  6
Rock Pigeon  # 7 Rock Pigeon  # 8 Rock Pigeon  # 9
Rock Pigeon  # 10 Rock Pigeon  # 11 Rock Pigeon  # 12
Rock Pigeon  # 16 feral variant  # 17 feral variant  # 18
feral variant  # 19 feral variant  # 20 feral variant  # 21
feral variant  # 22 feral variant  # 23 feral variant  # 24
feral variant  # 25 feral variant  # 26 feral variant  #27

8. Nicobar Pigeon   Caloenas nicobarica

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 40 Cm. This birds is actually mythical as not many birders have spotted them. Like a few species of other birds, the birds could only be found in the Islands around Langkawai. Fairly large Pigeon with fluffy feather makes the bird appeared larger than it actual size. An all dark dark plumage and with short white tail. Distinctive is the head and neck bearing golden green and blue gloss feathers.

 Distribution :-  The bird is found in the area of the Andaman, Nicobar Island and the hinterland of Greater and Lesser Sundas.
 Habitats & preferences:- The bird chooses uninhabited islands and basically a ground bird.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far only the forest on the islands around Langkawai reputed to hide this birds
 My personal jottings :-

 It spends more time on the ground having lifestyle similar to that of the jungle fowl. The bird is so shy that it is only found on isolated Islands or area with little human activities. Very little is known about the bird. It is a resident of the Islands in the north since Langkawai is in the beginning of the Andaman Seas. How to see the bird again? Hopefully those professionals in Langkawai Island has the latest information.


Call from this Pigeon:-     and Video:-

Nicobar Pigeon  # 1

Nicobar Pigeon  # 2

Nicobar Pigeon  # 3

Nicobar Pigeon  # 4

Nicobar Pigeon  # 5


This is a short tour to show how readily are the Pigeons in Malaysian could be sighted. Shown by using the number of pictures I have collected as benchmark, then one can gauge their chances of meeting up with the various species of wild pigeons.

While domesticated pigeon are seen in abundance at temple ground and urban streets, wild pigeons on the contrary are not easily sighted. Even at the forest edge or deep jungle, catching a glimpse of them is by chances. I myself have a conscious map of where these pigeon were spotted before and the timing of these previous sightings. Perhaps my jottings were not comprehensive enough, repeated sightings is very very rare.

I will keep adding them as I get new pictures for updates