email a friend
printable version
White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
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.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Columba leucocephala Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Columba leucocephala Stotz et al. (1996), Columba leucocephala BirdLife International (2004)

Distribution and population
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) (Bancroft and Bowman 2001). 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 (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Bancroft and Bowman 2001).

Population justification
Rich et al. (2003)

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline overall owing to ongoing habitat degradation and unsustainable levels of hunting, although the small population in the USA is increasing (based on Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count data: Butcher and Niven 2007).

In Florida, the Bahamas, the coastal Yucatan islets and the Lesser Antilles it requires isolated offshore mangrove islets with limited disturbance for breeding, for feeding it flies to humid evergreen or semi-deciduous hardwood forests on adjacent mainland areas (Bancroft and Bowman 2001, Gibbs et al. 2001). Elsewhere it generally occupies lower-lying forest habitats (Gibbs et al. 2001).

Degradation of foraging habitat is a threat to this species (del Hoyo et al. 1997). In Florida removal of poisonwood Metopium toxiferum, which can cause severe human dermatitis, affects the species as it feeds on the poisonwood's fruit (Bancroft and Bowman 2001, Gibbs et al. 2001). 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 (Bancroft and Bowman 2001). Collision with man-made objects is a major source of mortality in Florida, and pesticide use and human impact may also have detrimental effects (Bancroft and Bowman 2001).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect important breeding islets. Ensure protection of low-lying forests on larger islands where the species forages. Discourage removal of poisonwood where possible in Florida. Enforce hunting laws. Take measures to reduce collision with man-made objects. Educational programs that encourage people to plant native, fruit-producing trees in the Florida Keys should be enacted. Investigate the effects of pesticide use on the species. Monitor key populations throughout the species range.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Bancroft, G. T.; Bowman, R. 2001. White-crowned Pigeon Columba leucocephala. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 596, pp. 1-32. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Gibbs, D.; Barnes, E.; Cox, J. 2001. Pigeons and doves: a guide to the pigeons and doves of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Rich, T.D.; Beardmore, C.J.; Berlanga, H.; Blancher, P.J.; Bradstreet, M.S.W.; Butcher, G.S.; Demarest, D.W.; Dunn, E.H.; Hunter, W.C.; Inigo-Elias, E.E.; Martell, A.M.; Panjabi, A.O.; Pashley, D.N.; Rosenberg, K.V.; Rustay, C.M.; Wendt, J.S.; Will, T.C. 2004. Partners in flight: North American landbird conservation plan. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.

Further web sources of information
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., Capper, D., Harding, M. & Sharpe, C J

Butcher, G., Rosenberg, K., Wells, J. & Maisels, F.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Patagioenas leucocephala. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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 - White-crowned pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 236,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species