Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Columba vitiensis godmanae [25988]
Family Columbidae:Columbiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author (Mathews, 1915)
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Columba vitiensis godmanae

Common name: White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island)

The Lord Howe Island subspecies of the White-throated Pigeon is considered a valid subspecies by some authors (Goodwin 1983; Higgins & Davies 1996), but not all (del Hoyo et al. 1997). Its validity is uncertain because no specimens exist, and the description was based on a painting of the bird.

The White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) was a large, dark pigeon with a white throat and a red-and-green bill. It was 40 cm long. Its face was purple-mauve, with red eyes and a red bill with a green tip. The back of the head was green, the upperbody was brown with a blackish-brown tail, and the throat and sides of the neck were white with the rest of the underparts brown (Hutton 1991).

The White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) was recorded only on Lord Howe Island, in the south-west Pacific Ocean (Hindwood 1940). It was last recorded in 1853 (Hutton 1991). The subspecies formerly occurred in large numbers, said to be thousands (Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991). The White-throated Pigeon (Columba vitiensis) has not been recorded on mainland Australia.

There are eight subspecies of the White-throated Pigeon which occur from the Philippines south to Indonesia and New Guinea, and east onto islands of the south-western Pacific Ocean, including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, Fiji and Samoa (del Hoyo et al. 1997; Higgins & Davies 1996; Pratt et al. 1987).

The global population of Columba vitiensis is not considered threatened, with no evidence of serious declines among extant (living) populations (del Hoyo et al. 1997). There is a limited open season on the species in Vanuatu, but it is protected there at other times of the year (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

There have been a number of ornithological surveys on Lord Howe Island in the 20th century (Disney & Smithers 1972; Recher 1974; Recher & Clark 1974) but there has been no sign of the subspecies.

The White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) inhabited wooded habitats in the lowlands of Lord Howe Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; McAllan et al. 2004).

Nothing is known of the breeding of the White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island), though it was possibly similar to that of other subspecies. Other subspecies breed mainly between September and February, though some breed as early as July and August. The nest is described as a flimsy platform made from twigs placed in a tree, 3–8 m above the ground, where they lay one or two white eggs (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

The White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) probably ate the fruits and seeds of native plants, taking them from the trees and the forest floor (Hutton 1991). Other subspecies from outside Australia eat fruit, buds and seeds which are taken from shrubs, trees and the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

Given its endemism, the White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) was probably sedentary. Other subspecies which occur outside Australia are thought to undertake irregular local movements in search of food, with some evidence for inter-island movements (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

The White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) was a distinctive bird and would have been readily distinguished from all other species of pigeon that inhabit Lord Howe Island. It was reportedly large, numerous and very tame (Hindwood 1940), which probably aided in detection. The related subspecies, Columba vitiensis vitiensis, of Fiji is also considered conspicuous (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

Though the White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) has been extinct since the mid-19th century, if a survey were to be conducted, it should consist of diurnal area searches within a radius of 500 m at various sites, or possibly transect surveys. Either method, with the objective of sightings, or detecting birds by their calls or signs of foraging, would be useful in establishing whether the species was present at a site (Magrath et al. 2004).

The main threat causing the extinction of the White-throated Pigeon (Lord Howe Island) was trapping and hunting for food by settlers and visiting sailors. Large numbers of the birds were easily snared or killed with sticks without any alarm being shown by the birds (Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Columba vitiensis godmanaein Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006fp) [Internet].

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal, eds. (1997). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4, Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Disney, H.J. de S. & C.N. Smithers (1972). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Lord Howe Island, in comparison with Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 17:1-11.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Goodwin, D. (1983). Doves and Pigeons of the World. British Museum of Natural History, London.

Higgins, P.J. & S.J.J.F. Davies, eds (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Three - Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

Hutton, I. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour, NSW: author published.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

McAllan, I.A.W., B.R. Curtis, I. Hutton & R.M. Cooper (2004). The birds of the Lord Howe Island Group: a review of records. Australian Field Ornithology. 21:1-82.

Pratt, H.D., P.L. Bruner & D.G. Berrett (1987). A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Recher, H.F., ed. (1974). Environmental Survey of Lord Howe Island: A Report to the Lord Howe Island Board. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum.

Recher, H.F. & S.S. Clark (1974). A biological survey of Lord Howe Island with recommendations for the conservation of the island's wildlife. Biological Conservation. 6:263-273.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Columba vitiensis godmanae in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:07:26 +1000.