Green-pigeons and a green pigeon

Orders, families, genus, species: nested labels for life forms that we learn in school. Birds in the genus Treron are called green-pigeons. I tell them by the green or yellow chest feathers. But let’s step back. The order Columbiformes contains a single family Columbidae in which all doves (subfamily Clavarinae and Columbinae) and pigeons (part of subfamily Raphinae) are placed. Several of the Raphinae have green feathers on their wings or tails. But of these, only genus Treron have yellow or green chest feathers. The one I know best is the state bird of Maharashtra, the Yellow-footed green-pigeon (Treron phoenicopterus). It was one of the first birds I saw in Manas NP in Assam, far across the country. You can see it in the featured photo. Unfortunately its feet are in shadow, so the bright yellow looks gray in the photo.

The other Treron I got a photo of was the Pin-tailed green-pigeon (Treron apicauda). Its tail comes to a pointed end, as you might expect. Its feet are decidedly pink. We came across it pretty late in the evening, when the light was not great. Teasing out the colours of the feathers was hard. I’m happy I got enough for the identification in the photo. A better photo in good light is something I look forward to. For now I’m satisfied with this lifer.

For me this Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea), the state bird of Tripura, was the high point of pigeonry, but also my greatest disappointment. It is something I’ve sighed over before. Although you can see it along the west coast, south of Mumbai, along the east coast, and then through Odisha, Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bihar, into Assam and the north-east, I have seldom seen it. I was very excited to see it finally on our third day in Manas. The tail was green right to its tip, so I know it wasn’t the confounding Mountain Imperial Pigeon. But taking the photo was hard. I could only photograph it from almost directly below it. If I moved further to get it jewel-bright green wings and tail it would be obscured by the neighbouring branches. I shot off a rapid series of photos, and found that in the last ones it looks down, notices us and pushes off the branch into flight. I’ll have to wait longer for better photos.


By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. I see these up close in our condominium in Gurgaon. I love to spot them early mornings perched on the Banyan tree and sometimes the mulberry tree, when I open my eyes after my meditation, in our park downstairs.

    A friend here also rescued a juvenile and nursed it for a few months. But unfortunately it did not make it to adult hood.

    Liked by 1 person

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