A sociable species, the crested pigeon is typically seen in small to large flocks, sometimes numbering up to several hundred individuals. This species has a distinctive flight, with rapid, whirring wing beats interspersed with glides (2). When startled, crested pigeons take off with a characteristic whistling sound, which is produced by air passing over a modified primary feather on the wing (3) (5). Research has shown that this whistling sound may act as an alarm signal, alerting the rest of the flock to danger (5).
The crested pigeon feeds on a wide variety of seeds from native grasses, herbs and trees, as well as from introduced crops and weeds. It also eats some leaves, green shoots, bulbs and insects (2) (3). Foraging takes place on the ground (2), usually in the morning and evening, and flocks also congregate to drink at waterholes (2) (3).
The breeding season of the crested pigeon varies, with nesting potentially taking place at any time of year, but generally peaking between August and March. At this time, the male crested pigeon often performs a display flight, flying up at a steep angle with loud wing claps before gliding down to a perch with the wings held open. When courting a female, the male crested pigeon performs a ‘bowing’ display, raising and spreading his tail and raising his wings to show off the metallic patches. The male then bobs up and down while calling (2).
The crested pigeon’s nest consists of a flimsy platform of twigs, located in a tree or dense bush (2) (3). The female lays 2 white eggs (2) (3), which are incubated by both the male and female for 17 to 20 days (2). The young crested pigeons are cared for by both adults and fledge at about 14 to 19 days old. When conditions are favourable, the crested pigeon may raise several broods in a single season (2).