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Whistling wings

May 21, 2019

Crested Pigeons are not a particularly uncommon sight in our district, especially where grain is being fed to livestock, but it was a rare occurrence to have about ten of them visit our garden the other day. The rushed “insurance shot” of them at left is a bit out of focus and the next shot of one of them (below, right) is directly front on, which doesn’t do justice to the brilliant patterns and iridescent bronze colouring of their wings.
So for a better view we’ve included (below) a photo of a “crestie” taken at Maryborough some years ago.

They soon departed with their characteristic clatter of whistling wing-beats which can be heard in the audio below, together with their “whoop” call. The loud wing noise is apparently created by the particular alignment of a single flight feather.


The scientific name of the Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) means, unsurprisingly, “crested swift pigeon” and they are indeed very fast flyers. They typically intersperse their rapid wing-beats in flight with periods of gliding, which is very graceful to watch.

Crested Pigeons were originally confined to dry lightly-timbered parts of inland Australia, but have been able to greatly expand their range with the widespread clearing of native vegetation for crops and grazing. Their distribution now covers most of Australia, only excluding the far north and eastern Victoria.

We’re more than happy to have them join our local bronzewings. They are always easy to identify with their distinctive crests (more like a spike really), and of course their whistling wings.

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