Great cuckoo dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtsi, photographed by Rob Hutchinson.

Belongs within: Columbaves.
Contains: Columbigallina, Aplopelia, Leptotila, Zenaida, Geotrygon, TreroninaeColumbina, Macropygia, Patagioenas, Columba, Streptopelia, Stigmatopelia.

The Columbidae include the pigeons and doves, a distinctive family of mostly herbivorous, strong-flying birds found worldwide. Earlier authors mostly divided this family between the Treroninae for the palaeotropical fruit pigeons and Columbinae for the remaining ‘true pigeons’, with a few more small subfamilies for certain distinctive taxa, but this scheme has not been supported by molecular phylogenetic analyses (Shapiro et al. 2002; Jetz et al. 2012). Instead, a clade of New World taxa including the genera Geotrygon (quail-doves), Leptotila and Zenaida (mourning doves) may form one of the basal divisions within the columbids.

Its sister-clade, containing the remaining species, is most diverse in the Old World, though it does include the New World ground doves (Claravis, Columbina and related genera). The now-extinct passenger pigeon Ectopistes migratorius of North America may be a relatively basal member of this clade; the passenger pigeon was a slender, long-winged and -tailed pigeon adapted for strong, rapid flight. The genera Macropygia and Reinwardtoena form a clade of long-tailed pigeons, the cuckoo doves, found in southern Asia and Australasia.

Characters (from Austin 1961): Stout-bodied, neck rather short, head small. Bill short, slender, rounded, usually thickening toward tip and thinner in the middle; nostrils emerging through fleshy cere at base of bill. Plumage a thick, heavy coat of strong-shafted feathers, loosely attached to thin skin so as to drop out easily.

Columbidae [Claravinae, Columbae, Columbiformes, Columbinae, Columbini, Palumbinae, Peristeridae, Peristerinae, Turturidae]
    |--+--+--+--‘Geotrygon’ veraguensisBKB15
    |  |  |  `--LeptotilaSS02
    |  |  `--+--ZenaidaSS02
    |  |     `--GeotrygonSS02
    |  `--+--+--‘Geotrygon’ purpurataBKB15
    |     |  `--‘Geotrygon’ saphirinaBKB15
    |     `--+--‘Geotrygon’ versicolorBKB15
    |        `--+--‘Geotrygon’ montanaBKB15
    |           |    |--G. m. montanaMS55
    |           |    `--G. m. martinicaMS55
    |           `--‘Geotrygon’ violaceaBKB15
       |  `--+--Claravis Oberholser 1899BKB15, B94 [incl. Peristera Swainson 1827B94]
       |     |    |--C. geoffroyiHSS13
       |     |    |--C. godefridaJT12
       |     |    |--C. mondetouraJT12
       |     |    |--C. pretiosaBKB15
       |     |    |--‘Peristera’ principalis Hartlaub in Dohrn 1866D66
       |     |    |--‘Peristera’ simplexD66
       |     |    `--‘Peristera’ tympanistriaS66
       |     `--+--Uropelia campestrisBKB15
       |        `--+--ColumbinaSS02
       |           `--MetriopeliaBKB15
       |                |--M. aymaraBKB15
       |                `--+--M. melanopteraBKB15
       |                   `--+--M. ceciliaeBKB15 [=Gymnopelia ceciliaeT62]
       |                      |    |--M. c. ceciliaeT62
       |                      |    |--M. c. obsoletaT62
       |                      |    `--M. c. zimmeri [=Gymnopelia ceciliae zimmeri]T62
       |                      `--M. morenoiBKB15
       `--+--Ectopistes Swainson 1827BKB15, B94 [Ectopistinae]
          |    `--E. migratoriusSS02
             |  `--ReinwardtoenaBKB15
             |       |--R. browniBKB15
             |       |--R. crassirostrisJT12
             |       `--R. reinwardtsiJT12
             |            |--R. r. reinwardtsiT62
             |            |--R. r. albidaT62
             |            |--R. r. brevisT62
             |            `--R. r. griseotinctaT62
                              |--N. mayeriSS02
                              `--N. picturataJT12 [=Streptopelia picturataBKB15, Turtur picturatusS66]
                                   |--N. p. picturataL81
                                   |--‘Streptopelia’ p. aldabranaL81
                                   |--‘Streptopelia’ p. chuniL81
                                   |--‘Streptopelia’ p. comorensisL81
                                   |--‘Streptopelia’ p. rostrataL81
                                   `--‘Streptopelia’ p. saturataL81
Columbidae incertae sedis:
    |--Z. auriculataT62
    |    |--Z. a. auriculataT62
    |    `--Z. a. stenuraT62
    |--Z. graysoniRN72
    `--Z. macrouraT62
         |--Z. m. macrouraT62
         |--Z. m. carolinensisT62
         `--Z. m. marginellaT62
  Tympanistria tympanistriaT62
    |--T. t. tympanistriaT62
    `--T. t. fraseriT62
    |--O. chiriquensisRN72
    |--O. chrysiaRN72
    |--O. martinicaRN72
    |--O. montanaRN72
    `--O. mystaceaT62
         |--O. m. mystaceaT62
         `--O. m. sabaeT62
  Nesopelia galapagoensisT62, RN72
    |--L. ferruginea Gould 1865WS48 [=Geophaps plumifera ferrugineaM03; incl. L. ferruginea mungi Mathews 1912WS48]
    `--L. leucogasterR87
  Melopelia asiaticaFS55
  Starnoenas Bonaparte 1838 [Starnoenadinae]B94
    `--S. cyanocephalaJT12
  Erythroenas pulcherrimaB66
    |--S. incaL81
    `--S. squammata (Lesson 1831)ME04
  Dysmoropelia dekarchiskosHSS13
  Rupephaps Worthy, Hand et al. 2009CC10
    `--*R. taketake Worthy, Hand et al. 2009CC10
  Calopelia puellaPB27
    |--C. p. puellaPB27
    `--C. p. brehmeriPB27

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B66] Bartlett, A. D. 1866. Notes on the breeding of several species of birds in the Society’s gardens during the year 1865. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 76–79.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[D66] Dohrn, H. 1866. Synopsis of the birds of Ilha do Principe, with some remarks on their habits and descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 324–332.

[FS55] Felten, H., & J. Steinbacher. 1955. Zur Vogelfauna von El Salvador. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36 (1–2): 9–19.

[HSS13] Hirschfeld, E., A. Swash & R. Still. 2013. The World’s Rarest Birds. Princeton University Press: Princeton (New Jersey).

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L81] Long, J. L. 1981. Introduced Birds of the World: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments. Reed: Sydney.

[ME04] Mayr, G., & P. G. P. Ericson. 2004. Evidence for a sister group relationship between the Madagascan mesites (Mesitornithidae) and the cuckoos (Cuculidae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 84 (1–2): 1–17.

[MS55] Mertens, R., & J. Steinbacher. 1955. Die im Senckenberg-Museum vorhandenen Arten ausgestorbener, aussterbender oder seltener Vögel. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36 (3–4): 241–265.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[PB27] Pilsbry, H. A., & J. Bequaert. 1927. The aquatic mollusks of the Belgian Congo, with a geographical and ecological account of Congo malacology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 53 (2): 69–602, pls 10–77.

[R87] Ramsay, E. P. 1887. List of Western Australian birds collected by Mr. Cairn, and Mr. W. H. Boyer-Bower, at Derby and its vicinity, with remarks on the species. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 1 (4): 1085–1100.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. London, Blandford Press.

[S66] Schlegel, H. 1866. Communication from, on mammals and birds collected in Madagascar. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 419–426.

[SS02] Shapiro, B., D. Sibthorpe, A. Rambaut, J. Austin, G. M. Wragg, O. R. P. Bininda-Emonds, P. L. M. Lee & A. Cooper. 2002. Flight of the dodo. Nature 295: 1683.

[T62] Tendeiro, J. 1962. Estudos sobre malófagos: revisão monográfica do género Columbicola Ewing (Ischnocera, Philopteridae). Memórias da Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, ser. 2, 32: 7–460.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

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