White-headed Pigeon Click to enlarge image
White-headed Pigeon, Columba leucomela Image: SG Lane
© SG Lane

Fast Facts

  • IUCN Conservation Status
  • Classification
  • Size Range
    38 cm to 42 cm

The White-headed Pigeon prefers to feed in the introduced tree species Camphor Laurel. It is a large pigeon with a distinctive white head, neck and breast, which sometimes have an orange or greyish wash.

What do White-headed Pigeons look like?


The White-headed Pigeon is a large pigeon with a distinctive white head, neck and breast, which sometimes have an orange or greyish wash. The back, wings and tail are dark grey to black and the underparts are grey. The male has a metallic green or purple sheen, and the female often has a darker cap and is usually greyer. Young White-headed Pigeons resemble darker females. The eye ring is pink to dark red and the legs and feet are also pink-red.

Where do White-headed Pigeons live?


The White-headed Pigeon prefers tall tropical to sub-tropical rainforests, and is often seen in forest remnants. Also regularly found in Camphor Laurel trees in agricultural areas and in privet. Often seen in suburban gardens and will come to feeding trays; also at roadsides.


The White-headed Pigeon is found east of the Great Dividing Range from far north Queensland to southern New South Wales.

What do White-headed Pigeons eat and how do they communicate?

Feeding and diet

The White-headed Pigeon feeds on rainforest fruits and seeds, but strongly prefers laurels, such as the introduced Camphor Laurel. They feed in trees, sometimes in flocks, and will travel several kilometres to feed in open country.


A strong 'whook' and a slow mournful repeated 'oom-coo'.

What are White-headed Pigeons breeding behaviours?

Breeding Behaviour/s

The White-headed Pigeon builds a platform of sticks in dense tree foliage or in tangled vines. Both members of breeding pairs incubate and care for the single young.

Breeding Season: August to December; earlier in north.

Economic/social impacts

The planting of Camphor Laurels in cleared areas originally favoured the White-headed Pigeon and allowed it to expand its range. However, recent bush regeneration removal of Camphor Laurels and privets has reduced populations in some areas.