occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: RESIDENT: central Sonora, southern Chihuahua, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, and southern Texas south mostly in lowlands to central Costa Rica. Northernmost populations migratory (AOU 1998). Breeds in the lower and middle Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas and adjacent Tamaulipas, Mexico, then from Mexico's Rio Corona south into Central America (Brush 1998, DeGraaf et al. 1991). Breeding populations extend to both east and west coasts of Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 1997).
Length: 37 cm
Weight: 324 grams
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: In northern part of range inhabits semi-arid woodlands below 1100 meters, usually near water. In Mexico and Central America principally in lowlands, inhabiting forest patches. In more humid regions forages in open pastureland and areas with scattered trees, tall brush, bamboo, and in agricultural fields (AOU 1983, Brush 1998, DeGraaf et al. 1991, Terres 1980, Peterson and Chalif 1973, Sutton and Pettingill 1942). Frequents mature riparian woodland of Mexican ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana), cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), sugar hackberry (Celtis laevigata), black willow (Salix nigra), retama (Parkinsonia aculeata), and adjacent subtropical evergreen forest dominated by Texas ebony (Pithecellobium ebano). Also thornscrub habitat of huisache (Acacia smallii), mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and possum grape (Cissus incisa).
In Belize, utilizes both the northern semideciduous moist forests, and in southern moist-wet evergreen broadleaf forests; it is uncommon however in the coastal savannas and marshes (Wood et al. 1986, Garcia et al. 1994). In Costa Rica prefers open country with scattered trees; may range up to 2140 meters in semi-arid plateaus or up to 1070 meters in less arid areas; especially numerous in clearings at mid-elevations (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Stiles and Skutch 1989). Fond of water, visits water holes and sandbars in streams to drink and bathe (Bent 1932, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Terres 1980).
Nests in large tree or small sapling; on horizontal branch, in clump of small branches, or in tree concealed by tangle of vines or brush. Also nesting sometimes in a dead tree, often in a small copse, plantation, or large tree in open rather than inside dense woodland (Harrison 1978, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Sutton and Pettingill 1942). Most successful nesting in lower Rio Grande Valley occurs on riparian islands (Brush 1998).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Considered a short distance migrant (Wood et al. 1986). Flocks of 15-20 individuals arrive in Texas in February (del Hoyo et al. 1997). Mostly absent from Texas in winter (DeGraaf et al. 1991). In southern portion of range is resident year-round (Miller and Miller 1997).
Comments: Eats berries, acorns (Quercus spp.), fruits such as guava (Psidium spp.), figs (FICUS spp.), sugar hackberries, possum grape (Cissus incisa) and buds plucked from trees or shrubs (Bent 1932, Brush 1998, Collins 1960, Oberholser 1974, Terres 1980, DeGraaf et al. 1991). Usually forages high in crowns of trees but sometimes on ground. Mistletoe berries evidently a favorite food when available (Goodwin 1983). In Mexico may follow mast crops (Bent 1932). Is known to use grain stubble, corn, and sorghum fields for foraging. May aggregate around salt sources (Dickey and Van Rossem 1938).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Appears to presently occur within entire historic range from south Texas to Central America, though presently less abundant in Texas than historically noted. Some occurrences in Texas have been extirpated, the remaining occurrences there are fair to poor, and may not be viable in restricted and degraded habitat. It is estimated that the majority of occurrences in central and southern portions of range are good to excellent.
10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Hunted in Mexico and some 1000-3000 birds are declared annually by hunters crossing the border back into the U.S. (del Hoyo et al. 1997). In the lower Rio Grande region the taxon is believed to have declined dramatically this century, is currently considered local and uncommon, and in danger of extirpation as a breeding population with only 30 birds documented (Brush 1998, DeGraaf et al. 1991, Taylor 1944). Local extirpations have occurred (Brush and Cantu 1998).
Usually singly or in breeding pairs, occasionally larger groups (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Regular flocks of ten to fifty birds have been reported outside the breeding season (Sutton and Pettingill 1942, Terres 1980).
Life History and Behavior
In Mexico nest building has been noted in mid-March (Sutton and Pettingill 1942). Nest is constructed 1.5-25 meters above ground; a solitary frail structure of small twigs sometimes lined with fine stems and grasses, about 20 centimeters across and 5 centimeters deep (Harrison 1978). In U.S. eggs are laid mostly in April-June, and nests remain active into late August. Clutch size usually is one; eggs are pure white, slightly glossy. Breeding season may be prolonged with several broods per year (Bent 1932). Both sexes incubate eggs and tend young (Brush 1998, del Hoyo et al. 1997, Harrison 1978, Terres 1980).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Patagioenas flavirostris
There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Patagioenas flavirostris
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2008Least Concern
- 2004Least Concern
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Comments: HABITAT LOSS: Deforestation and damage to riparian communities by flood control and agricultural irrigation projects have precipitated a decline of this species in south Texas and adjoining Mexico (Brush, pers. comm.; del Hoyo et al. 1997). A combination of habitat loss and habitat deterioration including negative impacts of recent recurring droughts and freezes on large forest trees is probably responsible for the decline. Dewatering and the resulting succession of riparian woodland and subtropical evergreen forest to thorn-scrub communities comprised of smaller trees and shrubs may deteriorate habitat quality (Brush and Cantu 1998). PREDATION: High nest predation rates, as inferred from improved breeding success on islands, may also play a role in some local population declines (Brush 1998).
Restoration Potential: Will likely respond positively to restoration of mature riparian woodland and subtropical evergreen forest habitats in arid portions of its range. Water management, in which water is pumped into floodplain forests, has shown promising early effects on germination of tree seedlings, and may be needed to restore suitable riparian habitat (Brush 1998, Castillo 1997).
Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Appears to tolerate moderate fragmentation of habitat. Preserve selection and design may be compatible with land-use practices that include forest disturbances, though the magnitude and frequency of disturbance has not been quantified and may be geographically variable. Special habitat requirements include tall dense brush with small patches of tall trees (DeGraaf et al. 1991), and in arid environments, mature woodlands with proximity to water (Terres 1980). In the north, wooded islands are favored nesting sites (Brush 1998).
Management Requirements: Have substantially different habitat management requirements throughout range. Found in arid areas in the north to subtropical areas in the south. In Texas the loss and deterioration of evergreen and riparian woodland habitats are credited with causing a precipitous decline of the species (Brush 1998, Brush and Cantu 1998, del Hoyo et al. 1997). In Costa Rica, however, has a tendency to utilize large clearings and pastures in forested areas (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Because of geographic variation in habitats, moderate forest disturbance may be prescribed for southern portions of the range, but avoided in arid regions where woodland habitats are less available.
Management Research Needs: More fieldwork is needed to determine nesting success, population trends, and relationships between populations in Texas, Mexico, and elsewhere (Brush 1998). Information on site fidelity, home range, and reliance on agricultural grains would be useful to management. The widely differing effects of forest disturbance requires further research. The foraging ecology in northern riparian forests where generally little fruit is available needs further understanding (Dickey and Van Rossem 1938).
Biological Research Needs: The taxonomic relationships between the northern and southern populations, and the populations distributed to the west and east coasts of middle America need investigation.
Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: It is estimated that there are several occurrences adequately protected in forest reserves and national parks in Costa Rica and Belize. No occurrences are known to be protected in Mexico.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Stewardship Overview: Remnant populations in the lower Rio Grande Valley are vulnerable to extirpation from widespread degradation of riparian woodlands and subtropical evergreen forests, while some southern populations appear secure. Restoration of native habitats for the northern population will be most promising where water and land management can restore mature riparian forests. Close monitoring of the population is warranted throughout most of its range.
Species Impact: In Costa Rica locally a pest, eating sprouting seeds of corn or sorghum (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
The Red-billed Pigeon, Patagioenas flavirostris (see Johnson et al. 2001), is a relatively large pigeon which breeds from southern Texas, United States, and northwestern Mexico south to Costa Rica. It belongs to a clade of Patagioenas which generally lack iridescent display plumage, except some vestiges in the Pale-vented Pigeon.
It is found in open country with some trees, large clearings and cultivation in lowlands and middle altitudes to 2100 meters. It builds a rudimentary platform nest out of twigs in a tree about 4–25 metres (13–82 ft) above the ground, usually on a horizontal branch or on a palm crown, and lays one white egg.
The Red-billed Pigeon is mid or large-sized pigeon, at 30–37 cm (12–15 in) in length and a weight of 230–425 g (8.1–15.0 oz). It is mainly wine-purple, becoming browner on the back, and with a grey tail, lower belly and flight feathers. The bill is white with a red base, and the legs and eyes are red. Juvenile birds are duller than adults and the plumage is brown-tinged.
It is normally seen alone or in pairs and rarely forms flocks. It feeds on the ground, seeking acorns, berries and buds.
The Red-billed Pigeon has a loud kuk c'c'coooo call that is given in rows; the initial short kuk is characteristic for this group of Patagioenas (Mahler & Tubaro 2001).
- Johnson, Kevin P.; de Kort, Selvino; Dinwoodey, Karen, Mateman, A. C.; ten Cate, Carel; Lessells, C. M. & Clayton, Dale H. (2001): A molecular phylogeny of the dove genera Streptopelia and Columba. Auk 118(4): 874-887. PDF fulltext
- Mahler, Bettina & Tubaro, Pablo L. (2001): Relationship between song characters and morphology in New World pigeons. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 74(4): 533–539. doi:10.1006/bijl.2001.0596 (HTML abstract)
- Stiles, F. Gary & Skutch, Alexander Frank (1989): A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comistock, Ithaca. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: On the basis of studies by Johnson and Clayton (2000) and Johnson et al. (2001) of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, and a review of morphological (Ridgway 1916), serological (Cumley and Irwin 1944), and behavioral (Johnston 1962) characters, we place New World pigeons formerly included in Columba in a separate genus, Patagioenas Reichenback, 1853 (AOU 2003).