I love seeing Crested Pigeons.
They are a resident breeding species in our garden and five acre block of land on the outskirts of Murray Bridge, South Australia. We see them every day around the house garden and throughout our small patch of mallee scrub. They love coming to our bird baths in the warmer months too which means we get to see them up close and personal on most days. We also delight to see the iridescent colours on their plumage as the sunlight catches the various shades of the rainbow.
One thing I have observed in this species is their proclivity towards breeding. They always seem to be courting, mating, nesting, brooding eggs or feeding young. All through the year. No breeding season for them – though one field guide I consulted says breeding takes place mainly in spring and summer but can be most months.
A few days ago I looked out of the window towards the bird baths as I was walking through our sun room. On the ground near one of the bird baths I saw two Crested Pigeons cuddled up to one another in the weak sunshine. We’ve had some bleak wintry weather in recent months. Over the next few minutes they took it in turns to preen one another’s feathers, mainly around the beak, head and neck. It was such a gentle, caring touch and seemed so loving – if I can show a touch of anthropomorphosis for a moment.
I didn’t take any photos. My camera was at the other end of the house and there was a stick in the way which would have spoiled the photo. The short episode was over in several minutes but I am sure that my memory of the moment will endure.
On our return from a recent holiday in Sydney we were having lunch on the back veranda. I was watching a Crested Pigeon fussing about in a tree about twenty metres away. Next thing it settled down as if on a nest. I left my food – actually I think I was at the cuppa stage of the meal – and moved slowly and carefully towards the nest. I’d remembered to go inside to get my camera first.
Sure enough – the pigeon was sitting on a nest. Crested Pigeons are very common around Murray Bridge. At times I have counted up to 50 sitting perched on power lines, often in a row. It’s quite a spectacular sight, though it is not common to see so many at one location. Loose groups of 5 to 15 are quite common, however.
Crested Pigeons are what I call a resident breeding species, meaning, they are resident all the year and that they breed in our garden. The nest shown in today’s photos is quite a substantial nest for a pigeon. Most pigeons and doves are not fastidious or elaborate when it comes to nest building. They seem to think that a dozen or so flimsy sticks placed at random in the fork of any tree or bush will do as a home for their chicks. How the eggs don’t fall through some nests I’ve seen is amazing. Still, they seem to manage; there are a lot of them around!
My writing of this post was interrupted by the load of washing finishing, and I am the one in our household who usually does the washing. The pigeon’s nest is near the clothes line and the bird is sitting tight, even when we walk within a few metres of the nest. She must have eggs, I think. I will keep a watch on proceedings.
UPDATE: January 22nd: over the last week we have had a heatwave with five days over 42C with several over 45C (113F). This was followed by several days of wild wind which broke several branches off our trees. The nest is still there but appears to have been abandoned.
This evening I was sorting through some bird photos taken some months ago – earlier this year in fact. I’m not sure if I posted these photos at the time but that doesn’t matter.
I was once again bedazzled by the subtle colours on the wings of these Crested Pigeons. I’ve seen these colours glinting in the sunlight many times, and each time it catches my breath.
On one memorable occasion decades ago I was in my mother in law’s garden and I was able to steadily walk up to one of these pigeons until I was no more than 2 metres away. On this occasion the wing facing me was in bright sunlight and shone beautifully in many colours.
At first glance this species appears a dull grey all over. It is only when up close, and in the right light conditions, that its true beauty shines.
Adelaide Zoo has an excellent collection of birds, both Australian and non-Australian birds. In addition to those kept in aviaries, there is a thriving population of local birds which come in to feed in the animal enclosures.
Crested Pigeons are in evidence everywhere and on this occasion I managed a few good shots of some. This is generally very easy for they move quite unafraid amongst the zoo visitors. Those shown on today’s photos were feeding in the Emu enclosure, along with a few Spotted Turtledoves for good measure.