Great Birding Moments #5 Crested Pigeon
Earlier this week while driving to the post office to post some letters, I saw about a dozen Crested Pigeons Ocyphaps lophotes sitting on a powerline. This is a relatively common sight here in my home town of Murray Bridge in South Australia. I have seen loose flocks of 20-30 sitting in rows on power lines or on fences. On several occasions I have counted over 40, with 48 being the highest number in one spot.
Resident Breeding Species
The Crested Pigeon is a resident breeding species in our garden on our five acre block of land on the outskirts of Murray Bridge South Australia. On one occasion a pair nested only five metres from our house, in full view from the sun room where we often eat or sit and read or entertain visitors. The nest is a flimsy platform of small twigs. It is amazing how this poor excuse for a nest holds the eggs, let alone contain several growing chicks. But it is simply palatial compared to another common species around here. The nest of the Common Bronzewing Pigeon has so few twigs that I have been able to stand underneath one and count the eggs!
A bird on the move
The Crested Pigeon historically has been a species of the inland parts of Australia. In recent decades, however, it has spread steadily due in part to the increased availability of water on farms. It is very common in the parks and gardens of Adelaide and is increasingly reported in the metropolitan areas of Melbourne. In southern South Australia it was rarely seen in the south east districts, but I have seen it only a few kilometres from the coast near Mt Gambier.
It has been a bird of the rural areas of Australia, inhabiting grasslands, pastures, cropping areas, roadsides and farmyards. More recently it has become common in parks and gardens, golf and race courses, sporting grounds and other urban areas, even in our larger cities.
I grew up in the Murray Mallee farming district in South Australia. Throughout this area – and in many other parts of Australia, this species is still called a Topknot, noting its erect crest. This confuses it with the Topknot Pigeon of the rainforests and woodlands of eastern Australia.
I must admit that this is one of my favourite species. It seems such an endearing bird and will allow a close approach to within a few metres if done without sudden movements, especially at the nest (which I try to avoid doing too often). Up close, with the sun on the feathers, one can fully appreciate the stunning beauty of the iridescent colours on the wings.