Pale-vented Pigeon is a medium sized reddish pigeon (Patagioenas). This pigeon is primarily purplish brown with a rump and sides of the head, and pale gray throat and belly. The tail is brownish gray. The hind neck is glossed with metallic green. The bill of Pale-vented is black, but the tarsi and toes are red.
Pale-vented Pigeon is sympatric, across its broad geographic distribution, with several other vinaceous species of pigeon.
From southern Mexico south to extreme northwestern Colombia, Pale-vented Pigeon overlaps with the similar Short-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas nigrirostris), but Pale-vented is larger and with a paler lower belly (rather than uniform rufous brown). The two species also tend to segregate by habitat, with Pale-vented in more open woodlands and edges and Short-billed Pigeon preferring humid evergreen forests. Pale-vented Pigeon also overlaps extensively with Ruddy Pigeon (Patagioenas subvinacea) from Costa Rica to Bolivia and Brazil, and with Plumbeous Pigeon (Patagioenas plumbea) from Colombia to southern Brazil; but both Ruddy and Plumbeous pigeons differ from Pale-vented by their darker, more uniform plumage, and preference for intact forests.
Pale-vented Pigeon also overlaps, from southern Mexico south to Costa Rica, with Red-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas flavirostris), another large pigeon that is primarily dull purplish in color. Red-billed Pigeon differs in its darker gray belly and undertail coverts, black tail, dark gray remiges, and pale base to the bill.
Pale-vented Pigeon also may be confused with Scaled Pigeon (Patagioenas speciosa), which is about the same size and may occur in the same habitat. Scaled Pigeon is, however, is conspicuously scalloped below, and has a red bill.
The following description is based on Wetmore (1968):
Adult male: Forecrown drab purple; crown and nape gray, glossed with bronze and metallic green. Hindneck, upper back, scapulars, and lesser wing coverts reddish brown, more or less washed with gray. Side of head and upper foreneck gray. Lower back, rump, and uppertail coverts neutral gray. Rectrices brownish gray. Greater wing coverts and inner secondaries grayish brown. Alula, primaries and outer secondaries fuscous, narrowly edged with grayish white. Throat grayish white; breast reddish brown, washed more or less with purple, this wash sometimes extending to the flanks and belly; belly (usually), flanks, and undertail coverts grayish white to pale gray. Axillars and under wing coverts bluish gray.
Adult female: Similar to adult male, but duller, and less extensively reddish brown.
Immature: Much duller; crown gray or brownish gray; no gloss on hindneck.
No variable molts reported. In Tobago, molt has been recorded as occurring in July and August (ffrench 1991).
Iris: orange to reddish orange
Orbital skin: dark to bluish neutral gray bare skin around eye
Tarsi and toes: dull red
Bare parts color data from Wetmore (1968).
Total length: 29-34 cm (Howell and Webb 1995), 29.5-33.5 cm (Wetmore 1968)
Linear measurements (from Wetmore 1968; subspecies pallidicrissa):
wing chord, male, mean 184.3 mm (range 179-192 mm; n = 12)
female, mean 177.1 mm (range 173-180 mm; n = 7)
tail length, male, mean 110.9 mm (range 104.5-116.7 mm; n =12)
female, mean 105.6 mm (range 102.9-111.0 mm; n = 7)
bill length (culmen from base), male, mean 17.7 mm (range 15.3-20.0 mm; n = 12)
female, mean 16.7 mm (range 15.5-18.4 mm; n = 7)
tarsus length, male, mean 26.8 mm (range 24.2-28.7 mm; n = 12)
female, mean 26.3 mm (range 25.0-27.3 mm; n = 7)
Mass: male, 167-251 g (n = ?; Suriname, Haverschmidt 1968); female, 199-234 g (n = ?; Suriname, Haverschmidt 1968). One male, 238 g (Belize; Russell 1964); one female, 236 g (Belize; Russell 1964). One male, 340 g (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; Belton 1984).