Only the adult male has a truly white head in this species. In the female and immature birds the head and breast are often quite strongly tinged with grey. The red upper beak and eye ring are complimented by red legs and feet.
A secretive bird of the rainforests and wet eucalypt forests of eastern Australia from Cooktown in the north to Sydney in the south. Often, much time is spent amongst the forest branches and these birds are only usually seen when flying between suitable feeding grounds.
The white-headed pigeon feeds on fruits and berries of both native and introduced trees and shrubs. The white-headed pigeon has developed a particular fondness for the berries of the introduced camphor laurel tree. This has subsequently assisted with the rapid spread of this pest tree by the dispersion of seeds in the bird’s droppings.
As with most pigeon species, the nest is an untidy structure of interlaced twigs, quite often close to the ground in understorey shrubs and trees. One creamy-white egg is incubated by both male and female for around three weeks. The chick then spends a further three weeks in the nest until it fledges. Fledging is the stage at which the chick is fully feathered and able to fly.