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Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species has declined rapidly in the past, probably as a result of changing agricultural practice and hunting in its wintering grounds, and possibly habitat loss in its breeding grounds, and this decline is projected to continue. These factors qualify it as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

30 cm. Medium-sized, mostly grey pigeon but with brownish cast to upperparts. Yellow eyes and eye-ring. Whitish lower back, rump and underwing. Diffuse, dark tail-band. Narrow black bar across secondaries. Juvenile has brownish-tinged eyes and lacks gloss in plumage. Similar spp. Rock Pigeon C. livia larger with grey tail and well defined terminal band. Broader, more extensive black bars across greater coverts, tertials and secondaries. Hill Pigeon C. rupestris has white subterminal band and black terminal band to tail. Voice Quiet oo-oo-oo during breeding season. Hints In winter, scrutinise large flocks of pigeons in north India and west Pakistan.

Distribution and population
Columba eversmanni breeds in southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, north-east Iran and extreme north-west China (BirdLife International 2001). Its status and distribution within this range are poorly known. It winters in Pakistan and north-west India, historically as far east as Bihar, and southern Xinjiang and western Gansu, China. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was recorded in huge flocks in its wintering grounds, particularly in the Punjab, India. However, it has declined rapidly, from wintering flocks numbering thousands of birds to flocks generally only of tens or a few hundreds of birds, with occasional larger counts, most recently (1995) of up to 2,000 individuals in a single flock. Whether it continues to decline is unclear.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species declined historically owing to hunting pressure, and rapid declines are suspected to be continuing today through the widespread loss and conversion of habitat in both its breeding and wintering ranges (del Hoyo at al. 1997).

It breeds in holes in trees, buildings, cliffs and earth banks in semi-arid and desert areas, including around human settlement and, at least in Kazakhstan, in woodland. In winter, it occurs in open areas with scattered trees, often with agricultural crops, and in areas with suitable fruiting trees, where it roosts and feeds gregariously. The diet includes grass seeds, arable crop seeds and the fruit of trees and shrubs, including Zizyphus and mulberry Morus alba.

Hunting in both its breeding and wintering grounds has been the primary cause of its decline and continues to be a major threat in China. In India, intensification of arable cultivation and a change from the large-scale cultivation of pulses and mustard to wheat and rice has reduced the quality of habitat in its key wintering areas. Destruction of poplar Populus woodland is believed to have had a major impact on the breeding population in eastern Kazakhstan.

Conservation Actions Underway
In China, 15 protected areas have been designated within its range. In India, it occurs around the Harike Lake Bird Sanctuary, Punjab. Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey its central Asian breeding range to establish the size and distribution of the breeding population, key threats and habitat requirements. Investigate habitat requirements in its wintering grounds. Protect important breeding habitat from further loss and degradation. Protect it from hunting across its range, particularly in China, where it should be listed as a protected species, and in India. Improve management of protected areas holding the species.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Columba eversmanni. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Pale-backed pigeon (Columba eversmanni)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author Bonaparte, 1856
Population size 10000-19999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,910,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species