Thanks to Coast Counters! See results for seven seasons

Another round of VERY BIG THANKS to everyone who helped with coast counts!

If you can, please plan ahead for the 2020 season. If you missed the Birdlife NQ target date, it’s fine to choose any other date(s) that suits you right through November, December and January.

Our online map of results now shows the coast count totals for the past seven PIP/TIP seasons. You can see the details here.

Oct 2019 to Jan 2020: Can you help with Coast Counts?

Updated 5-1-2020

The annual Birdlife NQ coast counts of Torresian/Pied Imperial pigeons (TIPs/PIPs) urgently need more count volunteers. Please help if you can!

What’s involved? Go to your count site on the coast, keep watch from 4pm until dusk, and record the number of Torresian/Pied Imperial pigeons as they fly from the land out to sea. These distinctive birds are easy to identify when they fly out in the open. You don’t need to be an expert birder.

The Birdlife NQ target date for this season was Saturday 16 November. Many thanks to all who counted on/near that date. Follow-up counts in mid-December and mid-January will also be very valuable. It’s fine to pick a date near mid-month that suits you, and ideal if you can encourage friends to count at a nearby site to yours.

Count guidelines and datasheets can be downloaded here.

Many locations need to be covered. If you have chosen a count site, or would like help in choosing one, please contact Julia Hazel on 0407 431 382 or email:

Aug 2019: new season sightings in Cairns

During the second and third weeks of August, Cairns observers have been noticing that our beautiful big white pigeons are back in town.

As yet, we have only heard of small numbers. Two TIPs/PIPs were seen in Cairns on 12 August 2019 by Brian, four seen on 15 August by Gerry, and four seen on 17 August by Carolyn. Meanwhile, at the northern beaches, John saw three PIPs flying south past Clifton Beach on 16 August. Thank you all for your reports.

One of the two birds that Brian observed was carrying nesting material, so it seems some PIPs are ready to start breeding activities very soon after completing their migration journey from winter habitat in PNG.

PIPs travelling through Torres Strait… and ripe wongai fruit

Torres Strait observers reported the first flock of PIPS travelling south for this season. They saw 25-30 PIPS flying past Muralug on 17 August 2019 despite a strong SE wind. They noted that the PIPs’ migration coincided with the ripening of wongai fruit, as in previous years.

Many thanks to Jon, Laura and Camilla for this report and their photo (below) of a wongai tree laden with ripe fruit.

wongai tree with ripe fruit

First report of the new season!

August is the month we expect to see Torresian/Pied imperial pigeons returning to Queensland to prepare for a new breeding season, and right on cue, the first report for the 2019-20 season has just come in.

A flock of about 30 TIPs/PIPs was seen flying south near Cape Weymouth on 7 August 2019. Thanks to John and Brian for this report.

Oct 2018: Vale Margaret Thorsborne, Conservation Champion

We are mourning the passing of Margaret Thorsborne, an extraordinarily dedicated and courageous champion for the protection of Torres Strait Pigeons (PIPs/TIPs) and other vulnerable species and their habitat.

You can read more here.

Pigeon counts at North Brook Island were started in 1965 by Margaret Thorsborne and her late husband Arthur. For the next fifty years Margaret continued counting, and campaigned tirelessly to keep these counts going. In this 2015 picture, Margaret is counting with friend and scientific advisor Dr John Winter. Photo courtesy of Bryony Barnett.

Aug 2018: Have you sighted your first PIPs/TIPs this season?

PIPs/TIPs usually return to Queensland coastal areas during August and September, spreading gradually south. Timing has been variable in different seasons, and at different locations, so we are seeking everyone’s help to document their behaviour.

Update: first sightings south of Cairns
Thanks to Rae, who heard a single PIP at Tyto Wetlands on 15 August, earlier than usual for Tyto.
Thanks to Pam, who saw a single PIP at Hermit Park in Townsville on 17 August, also a surprisingly early arrival for that area.

First reports of the season!
A few early arrivals were sighted in Palm Beach and Cairns during the week 4 to 10 Aug. Thank you Sally for the first report to PIPwatch this season, and thanks also to the editors of Cairns Birders newsletter who published information from other observers.
On 16 August three PIPs were spotted at Yorkeys Knob Esplanade, thank to Laura.
On 20 August one PIP sighted at Centenary Lakes, thanks to Brian.

Please keep a lookout and please report YOUR sightings!