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The Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is a species of fruit-dove native to the tropical islands of Southeast Asia, Indonesia and India. It is among the most distinctively marked pigeons in the world with its iridescent green and purple plumage, bright red legs, and unique white-tipped tail feathers.

The species is also renowned for its remarkable ability to fly long distances over open ocean waters. This remarkable bird has been observed flying as far away as 500 miles from land and inhabiting small uninhabited islands without any human intervention or manipulation.

As one of the least studied birds on earth, little is known about their life history and ecology in nature. However, recent research efforts have begun to shed light on some aspects of this mysterious species’ natural behavior and habitat use.

For instance, it was recently discovered that Nicobar pigeons congregate at specific roosting sites during nonbreeding seasons where they remain quite sedentary until conditions become more favorable for breeding activity. These roosts are typically located near rivers or streams which provide easy access to food sources such as fruits and seeds found along riverbanks.

Overall, Nicobar Pigeon remains an enigmatic species that continues to intrigue scientists around the globe due to its unusual biology and fascinating behaviors. Despite limited information available regarding this elusive species, new discoveries continue to reveal exciting details about this avian marvel making it ever more enthralling to observe in its natural environment.


The Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is a large pigeon found in tropical Pacific islands and parts of Southeast Asia. It stands out with its characteristic metallic green coloring, dark blackish legs and feet, and distinctive white tail-feathers.

The species has an overall length between 44 – 49 centimeters; hence it is the largest member of the genus Caloenas. Its wing shape appears rounded while its upperparts are mostly glossy green with some bronze tints on its neck feathers.

The most striking feature of this bird is its coloration pattern, which includes an iridescent purple head, chestnut brown back, wings and lower breast. The undersides vary from light salmon to pinkish grey with darker barring on the flanks.

Its long broad tail consists of two distinctively shaped outermost feathers that have a very deep notch near their tips. Additionally, there are usually 16 or 17 inner rectrices which form a fan-like structure when spread out horizontally during flight.

In regards to physical features, the Nicobar Pigeon also has bluish eyes and pale yellow bill tipped in black. Its nostrils are covered by a fleshy membrane which helps protect them from salt water as these birds often bathe in shallow waters close to shorelines.

The unique combination of all these characteristics makes for quite an impressive sight especially when viewed up close or in flight against a clear blue sky background.

Habitat And Range

The Nicobar Pigeon is native to a wide range of habitat, ranging from coastal areas and islands in the Indian Ocean. They are found throughout most of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam. Their geographic distribution also extends into parts of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

In general, these birds prefer tropical evergreen forests with dense foliage for cover and shelter as well as abundant food sources such as fruits, flowers or insects. They may inhabit littoral habitats such as mangroves but will generally be found in lowland forests below 50 meters above sea level. The Nicobar pigeon is sedentary, having no known migratory habits.

Nicobar pigeons have been observed living on small islands where they feed mostly on the ground while drinking fresh water at natural springs near shorelines or rivers. These birds can adapt easily to human-modified environments like rural villages and suburban parks making them one of the most widespread species among all pigeons.


The Nicobar Pigeon has a diet that consists mostly of fruits and seeds. It typically eats the fruit found on trees and shrubs, as well as grains, nuts, berries, and other plant material. The bird also consumes insects occasionally when they are available in its habitat.

Most of the time it is seen eating large amounts of ripe fruit such as mangoes, guavas, bananas, papayas, lychee and many other tropical fruits. Occasionally it may eat flower buds or petals for a much needed nutritional boost. They also feed on vegetable matter like leaves from herbs and vegetables grown in gardens near their nests. Its diet can vary greatly depending on availability of food sources in different regions.

The Nicobar pigeon’s diet can be summarised into five main components:

  • Fruit Diet: These birds have an omnivorous appetite which includes a variety of fruits such as mangoes, guavas, bananas etc.
  • Seed Diet: Seeds form an important part of their daily meal plan including sunflower seeds and legumes like lentils and peas.
  • Insect Diet: When available in their natural environment these pigeons will consume small insects such ants and termites .
  • Flower Diet: Buds and petals from flowers provide them with essential vitamins and minerals to supplement their diets during periods when there is less food availability .
  • Vegetable Matter: Leaves from herbs or vegetables that grow close to the nesting sites become a source of nutrition for these birds .

With respect to dietary content, individuals within this species tend to show some variation based upon local availability; however most adhere closely to the categories outlined above overall providing good evidence for generalising about their dietary habits across various habitats worldwide.

Breeding Habits

The breeding habits of Nicobar Pigeons are essential to understand for those interested in studying and protecting this bird species. Understanding the pairing and courtship rituals of these birds can aid conservation efforts, as well as provide insight into their nesting behaviors.

Nicobar Pigeons form pairs during the breeding season with an elaborate courtship ritual that consists of both visual displays and vocalizations. The male typically performs a display involving bowing, cooing, fanning out its tail feathers, bobbing its head up and down, parading around the female, and then finally offering her food. During mating season they become very territorial and will defend against other pigeon intruders by chasing them away from nearby trees or nests.

Once paired off, each pair builds a nest together using twigs gathered from nearby branches which is usually located high up on tree trunks near forest edges or clearings. After laying two white eggs that measure about 35mm long and 27 mm wide, incubation takes place over the course of 18-19 days with both parents taking turns sitting on the eggs until hatching occurs.

Conservation Status

The Nicobar Pigeon is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With a population decline estimated to be between 50-79% in the last three generations, conservation efforts are necessary to protect this species.

The primary threat faced by the Nicobar Pigeon is habitat destruction caused by agricultural development and logging activities. In addition to these threats, hunting pressure on the bird has also contributed to their declining numbers.

Conservation measures have been implemented including protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which can provide safe habitats for birds in certain regions. Additionally, educational campaigns aimed at raising awareness of this species’ plight could help reduce human activities that threaten its survival.

Finally, research into new methods of monitoring populations and assessing threats will be essential if we hope to effectively conserve this majestic creature for future generations.

Understanding the impacts of human activity and identifying effective strategies for protection are critical steps towards preserving the Nicobar Pigeon from extinction. It is only through concerted action from governments, NGOs, and individuals that we can ensure the continued existence of this beautiful species.

Interesting Facts

The Nicobar Pigeon is an impressive species of bird. It is considered to be the largest living member of the Columbidae family, with a size ranging from 40-50 centimeters in length and an average wingspan for adults of about 80-90 centimeters.

This pigeon has beautiful iridescent greenish-blue plumage on its neck and breast that can appear black or brown depending on how light reflects off it. There are also bright yellow patches around its eyes as well as barring on its tail feathers.

Size40 – 50 cm long
80 – 90 cm wingspan
FeathersIridescent greenish-blue
Bright yellow patches by eyes
Barring on tail feathers
SoundSoft murmuring coos
Loud cackles when disturbed
Unique ‘hiccuping’ sound while flying
Endangered Species StatusVulnerable (IUCN Red List)

Despite being so large, this majestic creature has quite a soft call which consists of gentle murmurs mixed with loud cackles if they feel threatened or alarmed. They are also known for making a unique ‘hiccuping’ sound while flying between trees or other perches.

While their beauty makes them desirable to hunters, the Nicobar Pigeon is unfortunately listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to poaching and habitat destruction across much of Southeast Asia where they live naturally. As such, conservation efforts need to be implemented globally in order to protect this incredible species from extinction.

Human Interaction

The Nicobar pigeon is an intriguing species that has experienced a variety of human interactions. The bird has been sought after by bird watchers and ecotourists, as well as being targeted for domestication and trade activities.

Bird watching is one way humans have interacted with the Nicobar pigeon. Due to its vibrant plumage and endangered status, it attracts attention from many people who come to observe this rare species in the wild. This activity can bring economic benefits to local communities, which may be tempted to conserve the habitat of these magnificent birds or even create reserves solely dedicated to them.

Domestication is another form of interaction between humans and Nicobar pigeons. In some parts of their range, they are kept as ornamental pets due to their beautiful feathers and unique behavior. They are also popularly used in trading activities between countries because these birds can offer valuable resources such as food, decoration items, or hunting tools made out of their feathers. However, over-exploitation for these purposes could lead to further population declines if not properly regulated by authorities.

Overall, human interaction with the Nicobar pigeon plays an important role in terms of conservation efforts but must remain closely monitored so that sustainable practices are respected at all times. Careful management is necessary in order to maintain healthy populations across their native habitats and prevent any potential future extinctions caused by human exploitation.


Nicobar pigeons are a truly remarkable species that have adapted to the environment of tropical islands over time. They inhabit dense forests and mangroves, and can be found on numerous small islands throughout Southeast Asia, including India’s Nicobar Islands for which they are named.

Their diet consists mostly of fruit, but also includes some invertebrate prey as well as other plant matter. Breeding activity typically occurs during the wet season when food is plentiful, with both parents taking part in incubating eggs and caring for young after hatching.

Despite their wide range, nicobar pigeon populations are currently considered vulnerable due to hunting pressure from humans and destruction of their habitat. The species has faced additional threats such as invasive predators, resulting in decreased numbers across its entire range.

As conservation efforts continue, it will be important to protect areas where these birds can safely reproduce without human interference or predation by non-native animals.

The unique physical characteristics of this bird have made it highly sought after by collectors around the world, contributing further to population decline. Fortunately, measures such as international trade restrictions have been implemented in order to reduce illegal poaching and protect wild populations from extinction. With continued research and protection initiatives designed specifically for this species, there remains hope that Nicobar Pigeon populations can still recover despite current threats.