Pied Imperial Pigeon

The Pied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula bicolor, is a widespread resident breeding bird on mainly small islands adjoining the Indian Ocean from the Nicobars in an arc to New Guinea. It can also be found in northern Australia in coastal areas from the Kimberlies (in Western Australia) to the Great Barrier Reef, in the east (off Queensland).

Birds residing in the Kimberlies are non-migratory, while the birds east of Queensland are migratory. Migratory birds in the east arrive from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in August and depart February to April. They generally can be found in rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, coastal scrubs, creeks, rivers, mangroves and islands.

The Pied Imperial Pigeon is a large plump pigeon, 14-17.6 inches length, with a 18 inch wingspan. It is entirely white or pale cream, apart from black flight feathers and tail feathers. The head can be brown, soiled by eating fruit. Its flight is fast and direct, with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings which are characteristic of pigeons in general. Males that display fly steeply up, pause, tip forward and then glide downwards.

It builds an untidy stick nest in a tree, usually a coconut palm and lays a single white egg, which hatches within 23 to 25 days. The squab fledges after another three weeks. In Australia they breed between August and January in mangroves, vines, palm fronds on off-shore islands, such as the Brook Islands.

This is an arboreal dove, feeding almost exclusively on fruit. It can swallow fruits with very large seeds, the latter being regurgitated or excreted whole, depending on size, after the pulp has been removed.

The Pied Imperial-Pigeon is also known as the Nutmeg, Torresian Imperial, Imperial Pigeon and Torres Strait Pigeon.