White-crowned Pigeon: Species Profile
"Ah!" thought the bird watcher. "What's that flapping of wings in the trees? I should get in for a closer look." The White-crowned Pigeon stretched to reach a clump of its favorite fruit, and gulped them down. Iridescent emerald neck feathers were illuminated in a beam of light. The birder struggled through a tangle of sapling trees, the same type as the pigeon was feeding in, and lifted his binoculars. "Life bird!" he whispered to himself. Just then the pigeon rose from its perch with fast, powerful wingbeats, and was gone.
Later, the bird watcher sat at his campsite. Swollen, oozing, red welts covered his face and arms. Little did he know that days before, his most recent life bird, the White-crowned Pigeon, had lured him into a thicket of poisonwood trees!
White-crowned Pigeons nest nowhere in the U.S. but extreme south Florida, mainly in mangrove forests. They also reside throughout the Caribbean islands. These birds move inland daily to feed on the dull yellow, clustered fruit of the Poisonwood tree (closely related to poison ivy). In addition, they eat strangler fig, mastic, pigeon plum, sea grape and other tropical fruits, plus some seeds and insects.
Severe hunting pressure on Bahamian and other Caribbean nesting grounds has reduced White-crowned Pigeon numbers. Fortunately, recent conservation efforts in these areas and the establishment of National Park lands and other protected areas should ensure their survival.
This pigeon is most often seen in flight or perched in trees. It rarely visits the ground. Look for it around Eco Pond, the Bear Lake Road, Snake Bight Trailhead, and Nine-Mile Pond, especially in early morning hours. It is easily identified by its slate gray plumage and white cap.
Did You Know?
In the 1800s John James Audubon noted that the sky was often darkened by the flocks of numerous birds above. Since the early 20th century, around 93% of the wading bird population has vanished. Much of the wildlife left in south Florida depends on Everglades National Park for a home.