In Florida and throughout the range, birds often nest colonies or loose aggregations, usually with no more than one nest per tree. However, in at least in some regions of Puerto Rico, this species does not appear to be colonial (Wiley and Wiley 1979).
Breeding activity typically begins during the late dry and early wet season but ends well before the end of the wet season. In Florida, the first nesting period begins in mid- to late May (when Ficus are increasing) and extends into June, and the second nesting period begins in July (when poisonwood fruits ripen) and extends into August. Active nests can be found through September (Bancroft 1992, Bancroft et al. 2000). The nesting season in more southerly locations is often longer (Wiley and Wiley 1979, Jeffrey-Smith 1972).
Geographical and annual variation in timing of appears to be related to the types of fruit available and their quantity (Bancroft and Bowman 2001)A large peak in nesting activity coincides with the availability of ripe poisonwood, and to a lesser extent, blolly fruits (Bancroft et al. 2000). Unlike other pigeon species, white-crowned pigeons do not supplement their frugivorous diet with insects during the breeding season. As a result, poisonwood appears to be extremely important due to its high energy and protein content.
This species has a monogamous mating system. Individual adult females lay usually two glossy white eggs, sometimes one, and may have up to four broods per year. Young are altricial. Incubation averages 13-14 days. Both sexes incubate; female attends nest at night, male attends nest from mid-morning through early evening). Young leave nest at about 2.5-3 weeks, are independent 2-15 days later, and are fed by parents until about 28-40 days old. Young birds are fed crop milk for 3 days and then receive a milk-fruit mixture (Ehrlich et al. 1988).
Wiley and Wiley (1979) reported that nesting success was as high as 1.4 chicks fledged/active nest and as low as 0.3 chicks fledged/active nest. Nesting success varied considerably among four study seasons from a high of 67.8% to a low of 25.9%.
Strong and Bancroft (1994a) found that young birds in the Florida Keys typically remained on their natal key until 26 days of age where they continued to be fed by their parents. Young dispersed more than 20 kilometers during the first 10 days of post-dispersal. Strong and Bancroft suggested that some parental contact may be maintained during postfledging dispersal and that adult birds may be leading young to feeding sites.