Green imperial pigeon

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Green imperial pigeon
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Ducula
D. aenea
Binomial name
Ducula aenea
(Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Columba aenea (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Carpophaga aenothorax
  • Ducula aeneus (Linnaeus, 1766)

The green imperial pigeon (Ducula aenea) is a large forest pigeon. The large range extends from Nepal, southern India and Sri Lanka eastwards to southern China, Indonesia and the Philippines.


In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the green imperial pigeon in his six volume Ornithologie. He used the French name Le pigeon ramier des Moluques and the Latin Palumbus moluccensis.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the green imperial pigeon which he placed with all the other pigeons in the genus Columba. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Columba aenea and cited Brisson's work.[4] Brisson believed his specimen had come from the Maluku Islands but the species does not occur there and in 1918 the type locality was designated as the island of Flores in Indonesia.[5][6] The specific name aenea is from the Latin aeneus meaning "of a bronze colour" or "coppery".[7] This species is now placed in the genus Ducula that was introduced by the English naturalist Brian Houghton Hodgson in 1836.[8][9]

Eleven subspecies are recognised:[9]

The subspecies D. a. oenothorax is sometimes treated as a distinct species, the Enggano imperial pigeon (Ducula oenothorax).[15] The Nicobar imperial pigeon (Ducula nicobarica) was formerly treated as conspecific.[9][16]


The green imperial pigeon is a large, plump pigeon, 45 centimetres (18 in) in length. Its back, wings and tail are metallic green. The head and underparts are white, apart from maroon undertail coverts. Sexes are similar. The bird's call is deep and resonant, and is often the first indication of the presence of this treetop species.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Feeding at San Diego Zoo, USA

This is a forest species which is a widespread resident breeding bird in tropical southern Asia from Nepal[17][18] and India east to Indonesia. It has several subspecies, including the distinctive Celebes form, chestnut-naped imperial pigeon (Ducula aenea paulina).

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

This is an arboreal dove, feeding on plant material in the tree canopy. 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. It builds a stick nest in a tree and lays a single white egg. The birds are not very gregarious, but will form small flocks.



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2021). "Ducula aenea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021: e.T200094385A200094641. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-3.RLTS.T200094385A200094641.en. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Vol. 1. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 148–149, Plate 13 fig 2. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  3. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335. hdl:2246/678.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 283.
  5. ^ Hartert, Ernst; Goodson, Arthur Thomas (1918). "Notes on pigeons". Novitates Zoologicae. 25: 346–358 [346]. doi:10.5962/bhl.part.29771.
  6. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1937). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 46.
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ Hodgson, Brian Houghton (1836). "Notices of the ornithology of Nepal". Asiatic Researches, or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal. 19: 143–192 [160].
  9. ^ a b c Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Pigeons". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Indian green Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula aenea sylvatica) -". Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  11. ^ "Sunda green imperial-pigeon (Ducula aenea polia) -". Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  12. ^ "Maroon-naped imperial pigeon (D. a. nuchalis) - Avibase". Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  13. ^ "Talaud imperial pigeon (D. a. intermedia) - Avibase". Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  14. ^ "ZootierlisteHomepage". Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  15. ^ del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N.; Kirwan, G.M.; Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Enggano Imperial-pigeon (Ducula oenothorax)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  16. ^ Baptista, L.F.; Trail, P.W.; Horblit, H.M.; Kirwan, G.M.; Boesman, P.; Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Green Imperial-pigeon (Ducula aenea)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  17. ^ Maden, Kamal. "Rare wild pigeon sighted in Nepal". Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  18. ^ "Green pigeon spotted in Jhapa". The Himalayan Times. 2020-11-27. Retrieved 2020-11-30.

External links[edit]