Ring-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas caribaea


Justification of Red List category
This species is classified as Vulnerable because anecdotal evidence and the many threats it faces indicate that the range and population must now be small and declining.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
No new data are available on the species's population size or trends, but it is suspected to be suffering an on-going decline of 10-19% over ten years, owing to hunting pressure and habitat loss. Forest loss within the range is estimated at ~3% across three generations (Tracewski et al. 2016).

Distribution and population

Patagioenas caribaea is found throughout the wetter areas of Jamaica, but most notably in Cockpit Country, and the Blue and John Crow Mountains. It has been greatly reduced in numbers and range since the mid-19th century, however, it is highly seasonal in its use of foraging habitats and in flocking patterns, which makes trends difficult to track without systematic monitoring (S. Koenig in litt. 2007).


It inhabits relatively undisturbed humid forest and woodland, and wet limestone forest, at elevations of 100-2,000 m. It breeds mostly in the highlands in spring and summer (from late February to August), occurring locally to sea-level on the wetter, north side of the island (Raffaele et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). Some birds move to lower altitudes at certain times, but these movements are poorly understood (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). It feeds in small flocks on fruits and seeds high in the canopy, and large flocks are sometimes seen moving to different feeding locations (Raffaele et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). The nest is constructed high in a tall tree.


Unabating pressure from illegal hunting and ongoing logging and clearance for plantation agriculture is responsible for this species's continuing decline (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). However, the potential for bauxite mining in Cockpit Country is the currently the most important threat for the important populations in west-central Jamaica (S. Koenig in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected, but this is not enforced. Habitat in the Blue and John Crow Mountains has been declared a national park, but there is little enforcement or management (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). Funding is actively being sought for conservation in Cockpit Country (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000) and current efforts are being directed to supporting Forestry Department and community-based Local Forest Management Committees to protect the Forest Reserves and private buffer lands in the Cockpit Country Conservation Area (S. Koenig in litt. 2007). There is an on-going, high profile public awareness campaign to prevent bauxite mining in Cockpit Country; Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group and Local Forest Management Committees are engaged in the process of voicing opposition to mining and having the area declared "closed to mining" by Minister's Discretion (S. Koenig in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to assess numbers and precise distribution. Prevent bauxite mining in Cockpit Country by declaring the area "closed to mining". Maintain corridors linking highland forests and lowland areas (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000). Enforce legal protection. Ensure de facto protection of the national park in the Blue and John Crow Mountains (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, 2000).


41 cm. Large, grey and brown pigeon. Bluish-grey above, head and underparts pinkish-brown with bluish-green hindneck, black band across uppertail. Red eye and eye-ring. Female duller. Immature, brown-grey with reddish fringes on upperwing, and red-orange head and underparts. Similar spp. Plain Pigeon C. inornata lacks band in tail and has white in wings. Voice Guttural cru-cru-croooo descending on the last note, also repeated uhu-cooo with emphasis on last note.


Text account compilers
Everest, J.

Benstead, P., BirdLife Jamaica, Isherwood, I., Koenig, S., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C.J. & Wege, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Patagioenas caribaea. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.