Spotted Imperial-pigeon Ducula carola


Justification of Red List Category
This nomadic species has a small population which is likely to be declining rapidly owing to forest loss throughout its range, compounded by widespread hunting, qualifying it as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Extensive and on-going forest loss is suspected to be driving a rapid and continuing population reduction in this species.

Distribution and population

Ducula carola is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from Luzon, Mindoro, Sibuyan, Negros, Siquijor and Mindanao (Collar et al. 1999). Since 1980, there have been records from at least 12 sites on Luzon, Mindoro and Mindanao. On northern Luzon, it was fairly common in the late 19th century. By the 1990s, it had become rare and local in the Sierra Madre mountains, although flocks of 20 were still recorded regularly at Angat Dam. There is evidence of a decline on Mindanao and it may have been extirpated on Sibuyan. There have been recent sightings at Sablayan Penal Colony on Mindoro, where previously it had also been thought to have disappeared (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2016). The race nigrorum of the Visayas is likely to be extinct: although common as recently as the 1950s on Negros, it was not found during recent surveys there (Evans et al. 1993), and it is very likely to be extinct on Siquijor (D. Allen in litt. 2012).


It inhabits primary and selectively logged forest and forest edge up to 2,400 m, but favours lowlands. It appears to be confined to closed-canopy forest, although occasionally ventures to fruiting trees outside forest to feed. It is gregarious and nomadic, travelling long distances, both daily and seasonally, in response to food availability.


Extensive habitat destruction and hunting have caused its serious decline and range contraction. The species's complex pattern of habitat- and resource-use magnifies the risks it faces. In 1988, forest cover was as low as 4% on Negros, 24% on Luzon and 29% on Mindanao, and just 30 km2 of closed-canopy forest remained on Mindoro. Moreover, most remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions and mining applications. On Luzon, logging is taking place throughout the southern Sierra Madre (D. Allen in litt. 2012). On Mindanao, forest is being cleared and re-planted with exotic trees for paper production at the key site of Bislig. Its congregatory habits facilitate hunting, with large numbers caught during the 1950s on Luzon.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been recorded recently in two protected areas, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (Luzon) and Mt Kitanglad Natural Park (Mindanao). Four others may offer some habitat protection: Maria Aurora Monument and Quezon National Parks (Luzon), and MUFRC Experimental Forest and Siburan Penal Colony (Mindoro).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys, using sound recording methods, to clarify the species's current distribution and population status across its historical range, including Mt Halcon (Mindoro), Mts Canlaon and Talinis/Twin Lakes (Negros), Mts Apo, Mayo, Malindang, Matutum and Three Kings (Mindanao). Satellite-tag and radio-tag birds to gather information on ecology and movements to enable conservation planning. Promote improved protection of remaining forests at key sites.


33 cm. Small, imperial-pigeon. Male has pale grey head, neck and breast with white, crescent-shaped band across centre of breast. Blackish bar across lower breast, rest of underparts dark chestnut. Grey upperparts, tinged mauve, with dark spotting. Greenish-black flight feathers and tail. Whitish iris, reddish bill with paler tip, reddish legs. Female has darker head and underparts, lacking white breast-band and darker, mauvish-grey upperparts with more metallic gloss. Subspecies vary in breast patterning and upperpart coloration. Voice Po po po po po. Hints Look at fruiting trees. Often associates with Green Imperial-pigeon D. aenea.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Khwaja, N., Lowen, J., Westrip, J., Taylor, J.

Hutchinson, R., Allen, D., Tabaranza, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Ducula carola. Downloaded from on 10/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/08/2022.