Spotted Imperial-pigeon Ducula carola


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

Population justification
Estimated the population size of this species is extremely difficult owing to the paucity of records, despite increasingly good coverage of its range. Contemporary records are from three main islands: Luzon, Mindoro and Mindanao, with no recent records from Sibuyan and Siquijor (eBird 2022). For a long time, thought to be extirpated on Mindoro (Collar et al. 1999) but recent records of up to 25 individuals suggest the island does continue to support a small viable population, although the area of suitable forest and the number of observations suggest it is unlikely to be more than c.200 mature individuals. On Luzon and Mindanao, there are many recent records but these are temporally variable and the species appears to move widely in search of food such that the total number of individuals is estimated to be small. Based on the number of birds sighted in any block of forest (eBird 2022), the number of mature individuals on each of Luzon and Mindanao is estimated at 500-1,500, although this requires confirmation by specific surveys.

Trend justification
Forest loss and hunting has caused this species to be extirpated from area it formerly occupied (e.g. Siquijor and Negros). Both of these threats are ongoing. Forest cover loss in this species' range in the three generations to 2022 totalled c.10% (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein) and this is likely to be the minimum population reduction because of additive hunting pressures. The ongoing rate of decline is therefore suspected to be 10-19% over three generations (c.18.5 years; Bird et al. 2020).

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). 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, eBird 2022). The subspecies nigrorum of the Visayas is likely to be extinct (Allen 2020): although common as recently as the 1950s on Negros, it was not found during surveys there in the 1990s (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 a serious decline and range contraction and the probably extinction of subspecies nigrorum. The species' complex pattern of habitat- and resource-use magnifies the risks it faces. On Mindanao, and to a lesser extent Luzon, forest is being cleared and re-planted with exotic trees for paper production at a number of key sites (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein. Its congregatory habits facilitate hunting.

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' 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
Berryman, A.

Allen, D., Tabaranza, B., Hutchinson, R., Bird, J., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.R.S., Benstead, P. & Khwaja, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Ducula carola. Downloaded from on 04/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/06/2023.