Crested Pigeon nesting

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

About three weeks ago I was walking the estate. (We live on a five acre block on the edge of town.)

As I passed a row of Hakea francisiana bushes I checked thoroughly for any bird nests. These bushes, which are about four metres high, often host pigeon or honeyeater families.

Sure enough, a Crested Pigeon was sitting on a nest. I quietly crept away, knowing how easily pigeons can be disturbed from their nests. Sadly, when I checked back last week, the nest was abandoned. Even sadder was the half grown chick hanging from a fork in a branch. It was dead.

Hakea francisiana

Hakea francisiana

Something must have disturbed this young chick which then tried to escape, only to hang itself. The culprit could have been an Australian Magpie (they are feeding young at present), a Grey Currawong ( who will take young from a nest to feed its own), a Brown Falcon (which has been harassing the local birds recently) or even a Little Raven.

On another sad note, today when working in the scrub I found the wing of an adult Crested Pigeon. There was no evidence of who had taken this poor creature.

Nature in the raw can seem so cruel. But then – I could name a few humans who are not exactly innocent of cruelty.


23 Responses to “Crested Pigeon nesting”

  1. I have only ever seen one nesting of the Crested Pigeon, and that was in a Leptospermum in my front garden when I lived in town. The tree was in a corner near the front porch and I could see the nest without touching the tree.

    A cat got the first nestlings. She nested again. A cat got the second nestlings, as well as one of the parent birds.

    But cat-owners will defiantly say “but MY cat doesn’t hunt wildlife”, every time.


  2. Trevor says:

    Good point Gaye. As I said on another post only a few days ago – cats have no place in the Australian environment. Pet cats are bad enough, but I’ve seen feral cats in the Flinders Ranges (northern SA) that are so big they’d scare a large dog. The damage they do day in day out must be horrendous.

    Crested Pigeons are quite resilient; they will nest over and over throughout the year. Around here they seem to be always breeding and are very successful at it. When we moved here about 25 years ago we were lucky to see more than two or three at one time. Now it is quite common to see 20 – 30 or more sitting in a row on the power lines. On one occasion I counted 57 in a row.

  3. Francis says:

    I’m in an inner city industrial suburb of Sydney. I have a crested pigeon nesting in a potted fig I have which is about 5 metres tall. It was top heavy and blew over in a storm spilling the eggs and shattering them. I dramatically thinned the branches thinking the nest would be abandoned but the pigeon is back but without as much cover as she used to have. We’re assuming she’s laying again. We have a loud hyperactive dog in the yard who will keep cats away and doesn’t seem to bother the pigeon. We’re hoping this time we’ll get chicks.

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there Francis – thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    I wouldn’t be too worried. Crested Pigeons would have to be one of our most prolific breeding species of bird. Where I live they seem to be constantly breeding.

    Sometimes I wonder how they manage to survive despite their enthusiasm to breed. Quite often the nest is so flimsy it is a wonder that the eggs actually stay in the nest.

  5. Ruth says:

    In my front yard, I have two very tall, dead hakeas. I was going to have them cut down and taken away. For about a month now, at different times of the day I would hear bird calls from the shrubbery and looked in vain to see what was making the noise.

    To my surprise and delight I discovered yesterday that it is a crested pigeon that has built a nest right in the fork of a hakea branch. The nest is very thin and I could see the light through it but not any eggs. However, the pigeon appears to be nesting so presumably there are eggs.

    Thinking back I recall that we had one solitary crested pigeon often scratching and pecking around the bark chips in my garden for much of the earlier part of the year. I take it this may be the same one who has taken a liking to my garden.

    I am very keen to find out more about this bird and its habits. Love the feeling of providing some respite from the ravages of the environment for our birdlife! 🙂

    It has made me very keen to find out more about these friendly,

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi there Ruth,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your comments.

    The Crested Pigeons is one of my favourite birds. I often write about them on this blog. If you want to learn more about them, go to my archives here:

    Some of the articles may not have much relevance, but others you should find interesting.


  7. bananabender says:

    The culprit was most likely a butcher bird.

    I had a Crested Pigeon nest in my front yard. Today I saw a butcher bird eating a half-grown chick. The one parent looking after the nest had left to find food leaving the chick defenceless. The parent pigeon came back shortly after and was frantically looking for the chick which had been eaten.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi there Russell,

      Sorry about the delay in replying.

      You are correct. I was always under the impression that it was multilineata we had planted. My wife and I recently had a really close look at it and confirmed your ID. Well spotted.

      I have amended the caption and reference in the text of my post.

      I appreciate your help.

  8. Francis says:

    I now have a nesting pair in a murraya hedge we have bordering the back fence. The nest has been reused a number of times this year. The eggs occasionally have a tragic end. What makes a small hole in the egg and empties the contents? Next time I’ll take a photo. What’s the best way to protect the nest from predators? We have local mice, maybe rats and also Indian Mynas. Could any of them be culprits? What about currawongs or magpies? There was a black and white feather near the crime scene.
    And do they mate for life? Of course I can’t tell them apart but we’ve always seemed to have a pair around the house (Marrickville Sydney) over the last few years. My last post was Nov 08 (#3).

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Francis, as far as I know most pigeons mate for life, but I can’t check that out as all my reference books are at home in Murray Bridge (SA) while I am in Addis Ababa Ethiopia visiting my daughter who is teaching here.
      All of the predators you metion are potential culprits, though most of them would break the egg completely. Not sure what is making the small hole. A mystery.

  9. Francis says:

    You’ll note I have made previous comments in 2008 and Nov 2011 above.

    I’m happy to report that our nesting pair has successfully hatched a chick in our lemon tree. I was worried about mynas but they appear to have left it alone. I feel like a father again. This has taken almost four years of observation to spot a youngster.

    So this couple, if they’re the same, have moved from our potted fig, to a murraya hedge to a lemon tree. If they mate for life they may also be territorial.

  10. Vicki says:

    We have a huge leopard tree in our yard and there’s been a crested pigeon nesting there for some time. Every time I look up she is on the nest. One day I found a small white broken egg on the ground below but she was still sitting on the nest. A short time later I found a dead chick also on the ground, I looked up and she was still sitting on the nest. I could see the movement of another youngster by her side though and thought great, she still has one alive. Yesterday though after heavy rain and wind I noticed she was sitting on a branch near the nest (the first time I had seen her off the nest!). She then flitted to another part of the tree. I have searched the ground but have not found the youngster but I did see some grey feathers scattered. Earlier that day I found an adult crested pigeon upside down on the ground with other pigeons attacking him. He had some string caught around one of his claws and he was in bad shape. I took him to the vet but he died when they were examining him, probably of shock but I just couldn’t leave him there to die that way. Possibly my resident butcher birds and magpies are to blame for the youngster. These birds are so gentle and beautiful. I will be sure to keep a watchful eye out now for any future nesting.

  11. Linda J says:

    I have a good story about the pair of crested pigeons in our very small backyard NSW in the mango tree. I don’t know if its the same pair who keep returning but we’re currently on the 6th breed this year!
    I believe most have been a success as I’ve watched them grow until good size then not ever found any losses. And definately the last nesting was success as I witnessed the chicks first wobbly flight onto a humorous balancing act on the clothesline next door while the parent observed anxiously from the roof. Last year was three hatchings out of four, one was lost, must have been scared out of nest as I found dead hatchling in a V of a nearby bush.
    The thing is I have a cat and a dog, when I realised birds nesting a couple of years ago I put up mesh around the tree so cat cant get up & he is mostly indoors as I keep my eye on him all time during end of & when parents feeding on ground. I find it strange they keep returning here because of the dog & cat but maybe this is what keeps the other predatory birds magpies & miners away as I never see these in backyard but always many lorikeets, crested pigeons, wattle birds, wagtails with some of the other native feed trees out back. The next hatchling is large enough to be peeking out of the nest, so heres hoping another success!!

  12. Tony Ryan says:

    We have had numerous nstings at our home, almost always in trees alonside the covered outdoor BBQ area, but sometimes in a shrub just outside the dining room bay window. At present I am attempting to keep the “runt” of a pair hatched about 18 days ago. The larger bird has just left the nest and it seems the parents may have abandoned the little bird which I have had to place back into the nest several times. No sure whether it will accept very small seeds and drink from a dish of water. Will see how it goes.

  13. Hi I have a crested pigeon in my pine tree at the front door. Sooo beautiful. First nesting she had one baby successfully bought up and left the tree. Last nesting two beautiful babies. I’m so sad they have just left after being in the nest then in the tree hanging around in and out for about ten days. I Have heeps of pictures of them. I keep my cat in for 5 days when they were in the tree. I hope she comes back and has more. I love seeing mum and dad and babies together

  14. Robyne says:

    Found a lot of feathers and a carcass of one, in the backyard. As I watched, another crested pigeon came down, grabbed the carcass in it’s beak and flew off with it. I doubt they are cannibalistic, so I assume some cat killed it. 1. But why did another one fly off with it? 2. Do they mate for life? 3. Was it the mate? 4. What on earth was it going to do with the carcass? I live in Wollongong, NSW.

  15. Rhon says:

    Hi Trevor,
    We have a crested pigeon nest in a vine under the pergola off the kitchen. The nest is tiny and the parent on duty doesn’t fit in it but on top of it. Is this normal or have I broken part of the nest while cleaning up the vine?
    I am a cat lover, dog lover, bird lover etc, and for this reason my cats are only allowed outside on a leash. When growing up we had a hunter cat and I saw the devastation he caused.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Rhon,
      First of all – thank you for being a very responsible cat owner. I wish more people were like you.
      As for the Crested Pigeon nest, there is nothing to worry about. Pigeon and dove nests are notoriously badly made. They just throw a few sticks and twigs together and call it home. How the eggs and chicks stay safely in the nest defies common sense! On one occasion I stood under a Bronzewing Pigeon’s nest and it was so flimsy I could count the eggs. Amazing.

      • Rhon says:

        Oh my! Well this pair have wisely used the section of vine that’s under the pergola and against some lattice. Their next door neighbours are a pair of striated Pardalotes who are still putting the finishing touches to their nest.
        I am sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.

  16. Lauren says:

    Hi there. I have a pigeon who has been sitting in her nest for a while, if I’m right I think a female and male have been taking turns (smaller and a larger one) I think one of the babies who looks maybe half the size of a pigeon but quiet young still in now on its own, no mum or dad for two days now and the heat in Melbourne is around 35 and rising. Do the parents come back to feed the bigger baby now ( I’m guessing 3 -4 weeks old ) or have they left seeing as it’s too hot for even them to sit around a nest.. I don’t want to watch this poor baby die .. what’s the usual thing in this scenario ?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Lauren. You have described something that is quite common in nature. It always saddens us when baby birds are abandoned or die in the nest. What most people do not realise is that with many bird species, the death rate is quite high, especially in heatwave conditions like at present. To compensate, smaller bird species often have two or three broods a season. Sometimes only one in ten hatched chicks make it to adulthood.

  17. Mellanie Budden says:

    I just scared a crested pigeon off it’s nest there is a hatching in the nest. Will the Parents return? It is nesting in our car port on top of the electricity meter box.

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