Plain Pigeon (Patagioenas inornata)

Plain Pigeon


The plain pigeon (Patagioenas inornata) is a species of bird in the family Columbidae. It is found in Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Its natural habitats are forest, woodland, coastal desert, mangrove and swampy areas. It is threatened by habitat loss. The plain pigeon is a large-bodied bird (38 cm [15 in]) that superficially resembles the common city pigeon. At a distance it appears pale blue-gray overall. The head, hindneck, breast, and part of the folded wing are colored with a red-wine wash. When folded, the wing shows a white leading edge; in flight, it forms a conspicuous wing bar. Legs and feet are dark red. The female is slightly smaller and duller than the male. Juveniles are browner overall, with pale wing margins and dark eyes.

Distribution And Habitat

The Plain Pigeon is a species endemic to the Greater Antilles where it is a common year-round resident on Hispaniola and rare on Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico (Raffaele and others 1998). In Puerto Rico, it occurs primarily in the east-central region near Cidra and some neighboring municipalities such as Comerío, Caguas, Cayey, Aibonito, and San Lorenzo (Oberle 2018, Rivera-Milán and others 2003). It has not been reported from the satellite islands. This species usually inhabits open savannas and woodlands, lowland forest edges, mountain forests, primary- and second-growth forests, coastal areas, dry or wet limestone forests, and agricultural areas such as croplands and cattle pastures (Collar and others 1992, Collazo and Bonilla-Martinez 1988, Danforth 1936, PRDNER 1999, Raffaele and others 1998). In Puerto Rico, the species can be found mostly in wooded ravines, second-growth areas, bamboo thickets, and patches of farmland and pasture within moist mountain forests (Collar and others 1992, Collazo and Bonilla-Martinez 1988, Oberle 2018, Rivera-Milán and others 2003). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 31 records within 19 hexagons or 4 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 19 hexagons where the Plain Pigeon was found, breeding met the definition of confirmed in 5 percent (1) of the hexagons, probable in 16 percent (3), and possible in 63 percent (12), while it was observed in 16 percent (3) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). Plain Pigeon distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 47Plain Pigeon/Paloma Sabanera

Plain Pigeon Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Plain Pigeon builds a fragile nest made of sticks, twigs, leaves, and other plant material, which is usually placed in bamboo clumps, vine clusters, palm fronds, or hardwood trees (Biaggi 1997, Oberle 2018, Raffaele and others 1998). Previously published reports indicate that it breeds throughout the year but primarily from December to July (Oberle 2018). Atlas results suggest that this species breeding season extends mostly from February to July, with the most breeding activity from March through June, and to a lesser extent from September to November (see chart). Overall, the breeding activity peaks in May, and it mostly occurs in the subtropical moist forest life zone. Results show that this species breeds mostly in the east-central part of the island within the subtropical moist forest life zone (88 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The Plain Pigeon is currently listed as a near threatened species by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Nevertheless, the Puerto Rican subspecies (P. i. wetmorei) has declined dramatically throughout its distribution range and has been considered endangered due to habitat loss, illegal hunting, and predation by introduced mammals and hurricanes (Raffaele and others 1998; Rivera-Milán and others 2003, 2016). The subspecies is believed to have declined to <100 individuals in the 1970s, but it has recovered to several thousand individuals (Raffaele and others 1998, Rivera- Milán and others 2003). Although the Plain Pigeon population has been found to decline following hurricanes (Rivera-Milán and others 2003, 2016), the population has recovered quickly after past hurricanes. However, the population decreased substantially following Hurricanes Irma and María in September 2017 (Rivera-Milán and others 2019a). The Puerto Rican subspecies is classified as endangered by local and Federal laws (PRDNER 2016 and USFWS 1973, respectively). In Puerto Rico, the Plain Pigeon subspecies has a protected habitat in land of 5.2 percent or 20.1 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (382 km2).