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Timor Imperial-pigeon Ducula cineracea
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This pigeon occupies a small range and the population is experiencing a moderate and on-going decline. It is likely to occur in more than 10 locations and is not severely fragmented. The species has therefore been downlisted to Near Threatened; it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v). 

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.

39-45 cm. Large, dark, arboreal pigeon. Head and neck bluish-grey, becoming darker slate-grey on upperparts, more mauve on breast and buffy on belly. Reddish skin around eye, blackish bill. Similar spp. Pink-headed Imperial-pigeon D. rosacea is green on upperparts, paler pinkish on head and underparts and has chestnut undertail-coverts. White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis metallica (common on Gunung Mutis and surprisingly similar from below) is distinguished by its even darker plumage with purple and green gloss, particularly on upperparts. Voice A loud and unmistakeable short, rapid, quavering series of deep, muffled hu notes and deep disyllabic hoo-hoo call.

Distribution and population
This species is endemic to Timor-Leste, West Timor and Wetar, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). It is locally common, but presumed to be declining as available habitat continues to shrink. Recent observations have revealed a stable population on Gunung Mutis in West Timor. It was recently described as frequent in coffee plantations in the Ermera area of Timor-Leste, although little time has yet been spent surveying at appropriate altitudes for this mostly montane species (Trainor et al. undated). The species was also recorded during surveys of Mt. Mundo Perdido, Timor-Leste, in 2009 (BirdLife International 2009). The population on Wetar may account for a very high proportion of the global population (Trainor et al. 2009a,b), which has been crudely estimated at perhaps 10,000-20,000 birds (Trainor et al. 2009a).

Population justification
The species is at least locally common, with a population of perhaps 1,000 individuals at one site with c. 20 km2 of suitable habitat in East Timor (C. Trainor in litt. 2007). On Wetar, densities of 5-15 birds/ha have been recorded in gallery forest in Naumatang gorge at 100-200 m, and the island appears to support a very high proportion of the global population. Overall, the total population has been crudely estimated at perhaps 10,000-20,000 birds, thus it is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going decline in this species's population size is suspected owing to hunting and continuing forest loss.

It is presumably resident, perhaps making local altitudinal movements, in montane forest and monsoon woodland. It appears to occur between 600 m and 2,200 m on the island of Timor, whilst on Wetar the species has been recorded from sea-level to 930 m, being more frequent at higher elevations (Trainor et al. 2009a,b). It is reportedly common in native eucalyptus forest. On Wetar, the species has been seen most commonly in the canopy, but also occasionally in the mid-storey, 10-12 m above the ground (Trainor et al. 2009a,b). It has been observed to feed in Canarium and nutmeg Myristica trees. On Wetar, a stick nest was found 2.8 m above the ground in a low tree in a forested gulley in October 2008 (Trainor et al. 2009a).

The mountains of Timor-Leste were heavily deforested early in the 20th century, but habitat destruction has recently accelerated: an estimated 50% decline in remaining forest-cover occurred during Indonesian rule (1975-1999). Monsoon-forests now only cover an estimated 4% of West Timor, scattered around seven unprotected patches that are continually declining in size due to intensive grazing and burning. In addition, pigeons are apparently hunted extensively in Timor-Leste and West Timor, a factor that has presumably contributed to the decline of this species. On Wetar, the species occurs commonly down to the lowlands, thus its habitat is threatened by planned road construction, the expansion of mining activities and agricultural expansion, particularly driven by the cultivation of cash crops (Trainor et al. 2009a,b). However, much of the island is difficult to access and unsuitable for agriculture and timber extraction (C. Trainor in litt. 2008), providing hope that impacts will be limited.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
A 90,000-ha protected area has been established at Gunung Mutis. Several other montane protected areas are proposed for West Timor and Wetar, although it is not known if these areas support the species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys in remaining montane and monsoon-forest to establish the current distribution and population status of the species (including on Wetar), its habitat requirements and altitudinal preferences, in order to develop an effective strategy for its conservation. Propose key sites for establishment as strict protected areas. Increase capacity on Wetar for studying the species and implementing conservation measures and protected areas in the future.

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

BirdLife International. 2009. Endemics thrive on Timor-Leste's "Lost World" mountain.

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

Trainor, C. R., Imanuddin, Aldy, F., Verbelen, P. and Walker, J. S. 2009. The birds of Wetar, Banda Sea: one of Indonesia's forgotten islands. BirdingASIA 12: 78-93.

Trainor, C. R.; Imanuddin; Aldy, F.; Verbelen, P.; Walker, J. S. 2009. The birds of Wetar, Banda Sea: one of Indonesia's forgotten islands. BirdingASIA 12: 79-83.

Trainor, C. R.; Imanuddin; Aldy, F.; Walker, J. S. 2009. The status and conservation of the Endangered Wetar Ground-dove (Gallicolumba hoedtii) and other wildlife on Wetar Island, Indonesia, 2008: final technical report.

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., Davidson, P., Taylor, J. & Tobias, J.

Trainor, C.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ducula cineracea. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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 - Timor imperial-pigeon (Ducula cineracea) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author (Temminck, 1835)
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,500 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species