Timor Imperial-pigeon Ducula cineracea


Justification of Red List Category
This pigeon occupies a small range and the population is experiencing a moderate and on-going decline.  It is likely to occur in more than 10 locations and is not severely fragmented.  The species has therefore been downlisted to Near Threatened; as it still approaches the requirements for listing as threatened under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v). 

Population justification
The species is at least locally common, with a population of perhaps 1,000 individuals at one site with c. 20 km2 of suitable habitat in East Timor (C. Trainor in litt. 2007).  On Wetar, densities of 5-15 birds/ha have been recorded in gallery forest in Naumatang gorge at 100-200 m, and the island appears to support a very high proportion of the global population.  Overall, the total population has been crudely estimated at perhaps 10,000-20,000 birds, thus it is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals.  This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going decline in this species's population size is suspected owing to hunting and continuing forest loss.

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to Timor-Leste, West Timor and Wetar, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001).  It is locally common, but presumed to be declining as available habitat continues to shrink.  On Timor-Leste there is relatively little suitable habitat remaining, but surveys of livestock damaged montane forest remnants on Mt. Mundo Perdido, Mt. Taroman and Mt. Tapo (c. 6,500 ha in total) have regularly recorded the species (BirdLife International 2009, C. Trainor in litt. 2016).  At Mt. Mundo Perdido, c. 1,500 ha of evergreen montane and cloud forest between 1,200 - 1,700 m elevation may well support several hundred individuals given the abundance of calling birds during dry season visits (C. Trainor in litt. 2016).  Additionally it has been described as frequent in coffee plantations in the Ermera area, including observations of a nest (C. Trainor in litt. 2016), at relatively low elevations: further survey of high altitude remnants is may reveal a larger population.  Regular observations have been made from Gunung Mutis in West Timor to at least 2015 (C. Trainor in litt. 2016).  The population on Wetar may account for a very high proportion of the global population (Trainor et al. 2009a,b), which has been crudely estimated at perhaps 10,000-20,000 birds (Trainor et al. 2009a).


It is presumably resident, perhaps making local altitudinal movements, in montane forest and monsoon woodland.  It appears to occur between 600 m and 2,200 m on the island of Timor, whilst on Wetar the species has been recorded from sea-level to 930 m, being more frequent at higher elevations (Trainor et al. 2009a,b).  It is reportedly common in native eucalyptus forest.  On Wetar, the species has been seen most commonly in the canopy, but also occasionally in the mid-storey, 10-12 m above the ground (Trainor et al. 2009a,b).  It has been observed to feed in Canarium and nutmeg Myristica trees.  On Wetar, a stick nest was found 2.8 m above the ground in a low tree in a forested gulley in October 2008 (Trainor et al. 2009a).


The mountains of Timor-Leste were heavily deforested early in the 20th century, but habitat destruction has recently accelerated: an estimated 50% decline in remaining forest-cover occurred during Indonesian rule (1975-1999).  Monsoon-forests now only cover an estimated 4% of West Timor, scattered around seven unprotected patches that are continually declining in size due to continued illegal cutting, intensive grazing and burning (C. Trainor in litt. 2016).  In addition, pigeons are apparently hunted extensively in Timor-Leste and West Timor, a factor that has presumably contributed to the decline of this species.  On Wetar, the species occurs commonly down to the lowlands, thus its habitat is threatened by planned road construction, the expansion of mining activities and agricultural expansion, particularly driven by the cultivation of cash crops (Trainor et al. 2009a,b).  However, much of the island is difficult to access and unsuitable for agriculture and timber extraction (C. Trainor in litt. 2008),  providing hope that impacts will be limited.

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
A 90,000-ha protected area has been established at Gunung Mutis.  Several other montane protected areas are proposed for West Timor and Wetar, although it is not known if these areas support the species.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys in remaining montane and monsoon-forest to establish the current distribution and population status of the species (including on Wetar), its habitat requirements and altitudinal preferences, in order to develop an effective strategy for its conservation. Propose key sites for establishment as strict protected areas. Increase capacity on Wetar for studying the species and implementing conservation measures and protected areas in the future.


39-45 cm . Large, dark, arboreal pigeon.  Head and neck bluish-grey, becoming darker slate-grey on upperparts, more mauve on breast and buffy on belly.  Reddish skin around eye, blackish bill.  Similar spp. Pink-headed Imperial-pigeon D. rosacea is green on upperparts, paler pinkish on head and underparts and has chestnut undertail-coverts.  White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis metallica (common on Gunung Mutis and surprisingly similar from below) is distinguished by its even darker plumage with purple and green gloss, particularly on upperparts.  Voice  A loud and unmistakeable short, rapid, quavering series of deep, muffled hu notes and deep disyllabic hoo-hoo call.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Taylor, J. & Tobias, J.

Trainor, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Ducula cineracea. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/11/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/11/2020.