White-crowned Pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala)

White-crowned Pigeon

[order] COLUMBIFORMES | [family] Columbidae | [latin] Patagioenas leucocephala | [UK] White-crowned Pigeon | [FR] Pigeon a couronne blanche | [DE] Weissscheitel-Taube | [ES] Paloma corona blanca | [NL] Witkapduif


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

A stocky, obviously wild pigeon, size and build of Rock Dove; completely dark except for an immaculate white crown.

Listen to the sound of White-crowned Pigeon

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/White-crowned Pigeon.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 57 cm wingspan max.: 62 cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 35 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 21 days fledging max.: 23 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


North America, Middle America :Patagioenas leucocephala is found primarily in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Antigua. It breeds in smaller numbers in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands (to USA), the Virgin Islands (to UK), San Andres (Colombia), Isla de Providencia and the Corn Islands (Nicaragua), Cayman Islands, Anguilla (to UK), St Barthelemy (to France), and more rarely on St Martin and Guadeloupe (to France)1. Populations extend west along the Caribbean coasts of Yucatan Mexico, Belize, Honduras and north-west Panama. It reaches the USA only in the Florida Keys and the southern tip of mainland Florida


Mangrove keys, wooded islands.
Moves about freely among wooded habitats in south Florida. Usually nests in mangroves on small offshore islands, sometimes in outer fringe of mangroves along mainland, but generally avoids areas having raccoons (apparently a major nest predator). Feeds i
n tropical hardwood groves on islands and mainland.


The White-crowned Pigeon is generally a colonial nester, building a nest of twigs in mangroves and dry scrub. In the Bahamas it often nests on offshore islands and conduct daily migrations between nesting and feeding grounds. Breeding season ranges from March to August and in the Bahamas it is often as late as September. The White-crowned pigeon forms a strong pair bond with its mate and lays two shiny white eggs. Both the males and the females take turns on the nest, the males incubate during the day and females at night. Incubation lasts for about 13 -14 days and fledge after three more weeks. When chicks first emmerge they are pink and covered in a fine down, turning a dark brown black by 4 days old. Both the mother and the father brood and feed their young, again males tending to the young in the day and females at night. Both the males and the females produce and feed their chick “crop milk”, a milk-like substance secreted in an area of the lower neck called the crop. This milk contains similar proteins, fats and sugars as mammal milk but is secreted from special glands in the crop.

Feeding habits

Mostly fruits and berries.
Feeds on the fruits and berries of a great variety of native trees and shrubs of the Caribbean region, also sometimes those of introduced plants. May eat seeds at times, and perhaps rarely insects or snails.
Forages almost entirely in trees, clambering about with an agility surprising for the size of the bird, leaning and stretching and sometimes hanging upside down momentarily to reach berries. Seldom comes to the ground to feed.


This species is classified as Near Threatened because although it has quite a wide range, it is restricted to low-lying areas where deforestation and habitat degradation are most intense. Together with hunting pressure, this is thought to be causing a moderately rapid population reduction.
Degradation of foraging habitat is a threat to this species. In Florida removal of poisonwood Metopium toxiferum, which can cause severe human dermatitis, affects the species as it feeds on the poisonwood’s fruit. C. leucocephala is an important game species through much of its range, and although hunting regulations in the Bahamas have been changed, illegal hunting seems to be a threat. Collision with man-made objects is a major source of mortality in Florida, and pesticide use and human impact may also have detrimental effects.
White-crowned Pigeon status Near Threatened


West Indies, southern tip of Florida and Florida Keys (mainly in summer); locally in Caribbean islands, Belize. Migration: Somewhat
nomadic, moving about in Florida (and in Caribbean) with changing food supplies. Banding returns show that some Florida birds winter in West Indies, but many also winter on Florida Keys and some on southern Florida mainland.

Distribution map

White-crowned Pigeon distribution range map

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