Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Red-billed Pigeon

Patagioenas flavirostris

A common bird of dry woods in Mexico and Central America, this big pigeon enters our area only in southern Texas. There it inhabits native woods along the Rio Grande, where it is uncommon in summer and rare in winter. The rich cooing song of the male may help the observer to discover the Red-bill as it perches, half hidden, in the top of a dense low tree.
Conservation status Has declined with loss of native habitat in Texas. In Mexico and Central America, vulnerable to overhunting.
Family Pigeons and Doves
Habitat River woodlands, tall brush. In Texas, found mostly in relatively undisturbed native woods of hackberry, mesquite, huisache, ebony, and other trees. Farther south, inhabits dry woodlands of various types, generally avoiding more humid regions of rain forest.
A common bird of dry woods in Mexico and Central America, this big pigeon enters our area only in southern Texas. There it inhabits native woods along the Rio Grande, where it is uncommon in summer and rare in winter. The rich cooing song of the male may help the observer to discover the Red-bill as it perches, half hidden, in the top of a dense low tree.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adults
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly in trees and shrubs, climbing about among the branches to reach berries. Will also come to the ground to feed, including on waste grain in fields. Usually forages in pairs or small flocks.


Eggs

1, rarely 2. White. Incubation apparently by both parents, incubation period not well known. If adults are disturbed on nest, they put on a distraction display, dropping from the nest and fluttering low over the ground. Young: Both parents probably feed young "pigeon milk." Development of young and age at first flight not well known. May raise several broods per year in the tropics.


Young

Both parents probably feed young "pigeon milk." Development of young and age at first flight not well known. May raise several broods per year in the tropics.

Diet

Includes berries, seeds, nuts. Diet not known in detail. Feeds on many wild fruits and berries, including those of hackberry, mistletoe, wild fig, and many other plants. Also eats many acorns when available, and seeds of a variety of plants.


Nesting

Nesting behavior is not well known. Nest site is in tree, large shrub, or tangled vines, usually 8-30' above the ground, and usually on horizontal fork in branch. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is flimsy platform of sticks, lined with grasses and stems.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Migration

Probably permanent resident in much of its range; some withdrawal from northernmost part of range (in Texas) during the winter.

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Migration

Probably permanent resident in much of its range; some withdrawal from northernmost part of range (in Texas) during the winter.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Loud, high-pitched, clear coo, followed by a 3-syllable coo repeated 3 times.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.