Australian Pigeons and Doves

Spinifex Pigeon, Mt Augustus, WA

At first glimpse, most of our native pigeons and doves are unspectacular.  They are not especially colourful or large, nor do they entertain us with beautiful songs.  Indeed, the songs of many of the pigeons and doves border on the mournful.  There is, however, a wonderful range of native pigeons and doves spread across the country.

The common little Crested Pigeon, is as widespread as any other bird we have seen.  Nirbeeja raised many orphaned or abandoned Crested Pigeon chicks during her wildlife-caring days in Canberra, and developed great affection for this species.  We would have to classify the Crested Pigeon, along with the Pee Wee, as the most widespread bird species we have encountered during our travels.  For us, they help to make every place we see them feel like home.

Crested Pigeon, a frequent visitor at Alice Springs

We are yet to see the beautiful Fruit Doves of northern Queensland, but we count ourselves fortunate to have seen the Spinifex Pigeon, as gorgeously coloured as any bird, and with striking facial markings that would do any make-up artist proud.  As its name suggests, this pigeon spends most of its time on the ground, sheltering and feeding on and around clumps of spinifex.  It is so well camouflaged in the spinifex that, in most cases, you first become aware of its presence as one explodes into flight from virtually beneath your feet.

Spinifex Pigeon, Alice Springs

The smallest of our native doves is the Diamond Dove, named because the white dots on its wings resemble a scattering of diamonds.  The slightly larger Peaceful Dove is another delicate and pretty bird.

Diamond Dove, Serpentine Chalet region, West MacDonnell Ranges NT

A Peaceful Dove enjoys a drink, Broome Bird Observatory, WA

The Common Bronzewing, may be common in name and number, but appears anything but ordinary when the sun catches the metallic-looking feathers of its wings and creates an explosion of colour.

Common Bronzewing enjoying a 'sun bath'.

We have encountered some of the less common members of the family during our travels – notably the White-Quilled Rock Pigeon of the Kimberley, the White-Headed Pigeon of the east coast, and the Wonga Pigeon, which we heard more than saw in Dorrigo National Park in NSW.

White-Quilled Rock Pigeon, Bells Gorge, the Kimberley WA

White-Headed Pigeons, Hat Head National Park, NSW