The Red-billed Pigeon is a Middle American species whose range extends into the United States along a limited stretch of the Rio Grande River. This pigeon, typical of many species of this region, has received little study and our knowledge of its life history is limited. It eats seeds, acorns (and possibly other nuts), buds and sprouting young plants. Much of what we know about it comes from the observations of Alexander Skutch (Skutch 1964, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Lowther 2002).
DISTRIBUTION. During the 1987-1992 field work for the TBBA project, observers found 1 confirmed, 4 probable and 4 possible breeding records in latilong block 26099 and 5 possible breeding records in 26098, all near the lower Rio Grande River. Lockwood and Freeman (2004) report Hidalgo and Starr counties are the center of this species range in Texas. In Middle America this pigeon is found from the Rio Grande River and central Sonora south on both the Atlantic and Pacific coastal plains of Mexico and Guatemala and the Pacific slope of Honduras and El Salvador to central Costa Rica. Northernmost and highest elevation populations move south and downslope in late fall and winter (Howell and Webb 1995, Lowther2002).
SEASONAL OCCURRENCE. Red-billed Pigeons are summer residents in Texas, present from February to September (T. Brush, quoted in Lowther 2002). They breed from mid-February to mid-August ,based on egg dates from February 21 to August 8. Winter records are rare (Oberholser 1974, Lockwood and Freeman 2004).
BREEDING HABITAT. Red-billed Pigeons breed in Texas from sea level to about 80 m (275 ft) in floodplain forests. The nest, 4.5-25 m (15-80 ft) above ground on a horizontal tree branch or in the crown of a spiny palm, is a thin, frail platform of coarse sticks with an outside diameter of 20 cm (8 in). The female usually lays a single (rarely 2) smooth, white egg. Much more information is needed on the breeding biology of this species (Oberholser 1974, Stiles and Skutch 1989. Lowther 2002).
STATUS. The Breeding Bird Survey does not sample this species. In Texas this pigeon is a locally common to rare summer resident (Lockwood and Freeman 2004). The TBBA map is similar to that in Oberholser (1974)., In Mexico it is a common to fairly common resident (Howell and Webb 1995) and in Costa Rica this pigeon is a fairy common resident in the northwest and Valle Central (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Text by Robert C. Tweit (2006).
Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.
Lockwood, M. W. and B. Freeman. 2004. The TOS handbook of Texas birds. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Lowther, P. E. 2002. Red-billed Pigeon (Columba flavirostris). In The birds of North America, No. 644 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Skutch, A. F. 1964. Life histories of Central American pigeons. Wilson Bull. 76: 211-247.
Stiles, F. G. and A. F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY.