Australian Bush Birds
Squatter Pigeon  -  Geophaps scripta
squatter pigeon
Squatter Pigeon with distinctive facial markings. (Mt Surprise, Nth Queensland)
squatter pigeon squatter pigeon
The red eye-patch and black and white face markings make the Squatter Pigeon easy to identify.
map map The Squatter Pigeon - Geophaps scripta - (26 to 29 centimetres) has drab brown upper parts and tail; wings are also drab brown with fawn scalloping on feathers. The face is black with white stripes behind and below the eye and white patch on the cheek. Upper breast is drab brown, lower breast blue-grey tapering downward to a point on the belly. Belly is buff with white on the flanks; the white extends up the side of the breast as a narrowing stripe. Eye is dark brown; skin around the eye is red-orange in the northern variety and white-blue in the southern version. Bill is black. Thick feet are dark purple.

Male and female are similar. Immature birds are like adults but with duller colours, buff coloured eye-skin and dull facial patterns.

Squatter Pigeons eat mainly seeds. In northern Queensland grains come from grasses and plants of the pea family. They also eat the seeds of sedges, herbs, trees and shrubs. Insects are also an important, but small, part of their diet. Spends most of the time on the ground, feeding, resting, sunning or dust-bathing, drinks daily.

Squatter Pigeon - page 2
When disturbed, it tries to escape by running or freezing - the freeze posture is described as a squat and may be the reason for the common name.

They were once widespread from inland Queensland down to the New South Wales inland plains extending to Dubbo and Cobar but are now abundant only in tropical woodland north of the Burdekin catchment (approximately Townsville area). Reduction in numbers has been attributed to shooting, introduced predators and the effects of stock grazing on grasslands.

Breeds at any time of the year if conditions are favourable with most activity in May-June. The nest is a scrape in the ground sheltered by a bush or tussock of grass and thinly lined with dry grass. Two eggs are laid; smooth, lustrous, pale cream, oval, about 30 by 23 millimetres. Incubation takes about 17 days by both parents.