MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL PIGEON also known as Maroon-backed Imperial Pigeon or Hodgson’s Imperial Pigeon is the largest pigeon species in its range at 17-20 inches long.
It has a fairly long tail, broad rounded wings and slow wing-beats. The head, neck and under parts are vinous-grey with a contrasting white throat and brownish-maroon upper parts and wings, though the upper part of the body can be duller. The under-wing is slate-grey and the tail is blackish with a grey horizontal line. The combination of the maroon back with the large size, give this species a distinctive appearance. Its call consists of a deep, resonant boom that is only detectable at close range.
Though usually solitary, this species has been seen in groups numbering up to 20, especially when going to roost or flying up or down in mountains. They can be difficult to see, since they spend their time usually in high canopy or fly fairly high over the canopy.
During the breeding display, calling birds “puff up their throats” considerably while singing and bow to potential mates. Then the displaying bird engages in a “vertical flight” up from the perch, up 20-26ft in the air, and then glides back down with wings and tail “widely spread”. In the northern stretches of the species’ range, breeding is from March to August, while in the southern parts of India and south-east Asia, they breed from January to May. The nest is usually in a fairly small tree, about 16-26ft off the ground and is a flimsy platform. One or, rarely, two eggs are laid and both parents incubate. They only leave the nest if highly pressed.
They feed on fruits and berries, especially figs and nutmeg, which are plucked and swallowed whole. They will, occasionally, come to the ground to drink, as in the mangroves of Borneo, where up to 200 or 300 of them have been flushed at once.
It has a wide range in south-eastern Asia, where it occurs in Bhutan, Cambodia, India, China Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. It may be found from sea level to elevation of 8,370ft in the Himalayas and 7,200ft on Sumatra. Being mainly a “foothill” bird, it probably only breeds above an elevation of 1,600ft, although feeding flocks below this height are common. It is usually found in old-growth forests. The species is generally fairly common where extensive stands of forest remain.