This species is classified as Near Threatened because although it has a very restricted range and its population may be moderately small, the population is estimated to be stable despite the presence of several invasive species and there is not thought to be any plausible threat which is likely to cause rapid future declines.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
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 cm. Unmistakable, large, dark grey pigeon. Sexes similar. Purplish, greenish or reddish-brown iridescent sheen on upperparts and breast, depending on viewing angle. Yellow or orange iris. Red-brown undertail-coverts. Juvenile more dull, more brown on underside, paler on lores, chin and forehead, with brown iris. Legs and feet purplish-red in adults and grey-brown in juveniles. Black bill. Voice Purring coo, rising then falling in pitch, of about one second duration. Also deep booming whoo. Hints Confiding when feeding.
About one third of the species's previously favoured plateau forest was cleared for phosphate mining before clearance ceased in 1987. This loss has been partly offset by the introduction of M. calabura, which flourishes on many former mine fields and other disturbed areas, and provides a rich food source for much of the year. Future habitat loss is possible through clearance for mining (S. Garnett in litt. 2003), and in 2007 significant patches of mature secondary forest were cleared for mining (D. James in litt. 2007). Also in 2007, a new application to mine a 250 ha area of rainforest (P. Green in litt. 2007) was turned down (J. Hennicke in litt. 2007). Illegal hunting continued after prohibition in 1977, but is now less prevalent. The failure of the introduction to Cocos-Keeling Islands has been attributed to hunting and/or lack of suitable food-trees. The introduced yellow crazy ant Anoplolepis gracilipes, which formed super-colonies during the 1990s and spread rapidly to cover about 25% of the island or about 3,400 ha, but was controlled over about 2,900 ha in September 2002, was thought to be a potential threat. Once controlled, however, the ants are re-establishing supercolonies (D. James in litt. 2007). In 2006, the ants were regarded as widespread and patchily common (T. Low in litt. 2006). If allowed to spread uncontrolled, ant super-colonies may prey directly on nestlings, although there is no evidence that this is a threat to the overall population, and alter island ecology by killing the dominant life-form, the red crab Gecaroidea natalis, which otherwise inhibits understorey plant growth and the spread of weeds by eating the seeds and seedlings of both native and invasive species (P. Green and D. O'Dowd in litt. 2003, S. Garnett in litt. 2003, D. James in litt. 2007). The ants also farm scale insects, causing canopy die-back, which in turn promotes weed growth and further alters forest structure (D. James in litt. 2007). The scale at which these processes occur is uncertain (D. James in litt. 2007), but fears that the pigeon would be affected by the ants appear to have been unfounded, perhaps due control of the ants and because there are fewer ants in the canopy where the pigeons feed (Garnett et al. 2011). Black rats Rattus rattus may reduce nesting success and feral cats Felis catus are present but neither are currently thought to be causing declines (Garnett et al. 2011).
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Beeton, B., Burbidge, A. A., Grigg, G., Harrison, P., How, R. A., Humphries, B., McKenzie, N., Woinarski, J. 2010. Final report, Christmas Island Expert Working Group to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.
Garnett, S. T.; Crowley, G. M. 2000. The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra.
Garnett, S.T., Szabo, J.K. and Dutson, G. 2011. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
James, D.J. and Retallick, K. 2007. Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra, Australia.
Further web sources of information
Australian Govt - Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 - Recovery Outline
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Garnett, S., McClellan, R., Pilgrim, J., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
Blyth, J., Garnett, S., Green, P., Hennicke, J., James, D., Low, T. & O'Dowd, D.
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Ducula whartoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2015.
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
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Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Near Threatened|
|Family||Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)|
|Species name author||(Sharpe, 1887)|
|Population size||5000 mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||140 km2|
|Links to further information|
|- Additional Information on this species|