White-Crowned Pigeon

Patagioenas leucocephala

White-crowned pigeons are a large slate-gray bird with a conspicuous white crown and an iridescent green scaled nape. The distribution of the white-crowned pigeon ranges from south Florida through the West Indies and the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Florida population is estimated at about 7,500 pairs. Potential causes for population decline are habitat loss through urbanization in the Florida Keys, and hunting, poaching, and habitat loss through deforestation in the Caribbean. The white-crowned pigeon is a common game species throughout the Caribbean; however, hunting regulations have been imposed by select countries to help conserve this species.

Nesting colonies can be found on isolated mangrove islands primarily from May through September. Nest sites are usually built on the fork of a low branch of a mangrove or other shrub. Nesting may also occur on the ground on smaller islands, on cactus, or up to 30 feet above the water. Nests are constructed from twigs, grass and other fine vegetative materials. These birds usually avoid islands populated by raccoons, as they are nest predators. White-crowned pigeons are known to nest up to four times in a single season during years of abundant food. White-crowned pigeons primarily forage in trees. Their diet consists of mainly fruits and berries, including poisonwood, found in low-lying forests on larger islands. Removal of poisonwood, which can cause severe skin rashes, has impacted the availability of berries for this species.

For several years we have been partnering with scientists at Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) to identify daily and seasonal movements of the white-crowned pigeon using satellite-tracking technology.  These studies will identify critical habitats and provide other ecological information about white-crowned pigeons that will inform future management decisions and strategies. For more information on the satellite-tracking studies of the white-crowned pigeon and other imperiled birds that use the Florida Keys NWRs, visit ARCI's website .

Facts About White-Crowned Pigeon

Status-State listed as threatened species

Favorite food- fruit of the poisonwood tree 

Critical habitat-hardwood hammock