This species nests in damp evergreen woodlands in the central highlands, building a stick nest in a tree and laying a single white egg. Its flight is quick, with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings which are characteristic of pigeons in general. Most of its food is vegetable. Normally silent it utters an owl-like hoo call in the breeding season.
The Sri Lanka wood pigeon is 36 cm in length. Its upperparts and tail are dark grey, and the head and underparts are lilac, becoming paler on the belly. There is a black-and-white chessboard pattern on the nape.