July 29 2021

This year from February through to July WIRES Northern Rivers have rescued ten Topknot pigeons, this is an increase than in previous years. They have ranged in age from chicks to adult birds.

Two of the ten Topknot pigeons needed to be euthanised, one due to severe injuries from being hit by a car, the other due to a raptor attack. Four have been released and four are still in care.

Topknot pigeons are a large majestic bird averaging 525g in weight. They are nomadic and move from place to place in flocks in search of fruiting trees. When birds traverse in flocks they are prone to being attacked by raptors.

Five of the adult Topknot pigeons rescued this year have been victims of such attacks. Fortunately four had no serious injuries such as fractures but they did sustain major feather loss. Two have been released at Nimbin by WIRES volunteer Katrina. They needed to be in care for 8 to 11 weeks for their flight feathers to regrow and to regain flight strength in a flight aviary.

Another two have been released at Tucki Tucki Creek in Goonellabah where they congregate to feed and nest.

We still have two adults in care; one was recently rescued and assessed at Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, again another raptor attack.

We also have two chicks in care. They were rescued in the Tucki Tucki Creek reserve at Goonellabah where the Topknots nest every autumn. Unfortunately exact locations weren’t recorded so reunites have not been possible.

When the chicks are self-feeding and flying strongly they will be released where Topknots are seen feeding.

This chick was found on the ground by a student on his way to school.

The Topknot pigeon feed on fruit from various rainforest trees such as Fig trees, Blue quandong, Lilly-pilly, Corkwood and Bangalow palms.

With most of our rainforests cleared we see the Topknot pigeons feeding on the berries of the introduced camphor laurel and privet trees. They feed in the canopy and lower story of forest trees and never come to the ground to feed or drink. They obtain water by drinking from leaves or in dry weather from streams as they cling from low hanging branches.