Tuesday 21 May
Large green pigeon (Treron capellei)
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Large green pigeon fact file
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Large green pigeon description
The largest of the green pigeons (Treron species)(3), the colourful, fig-loving large green pigeon was once common throughout south-east Asia, but is now in serious decline. The head and body of this species are predominantly greyish-green, the wings are blackish-grey with yellow fringes, the undertail is dark chestnut and the legs are yellow. Both sexes possess a broad chest patch; in the male this is a dark golden colour, while in the female it is a lighter yellow. The large green pigeon produces a variety of vocalisations including deep, rich growling notes and a kak-kak or kwok-kwok call (2).
- Length: 36 cm (2)
Large green pigeon biology
The large green pigeon can usually be found in small flocks, high in the canopy of tall trees (2). It is a fig-eating specialist, favouring fig tree species that produce larger fruits, over ten centimetres long. The animated feeding activity of the flock at a fruiting tree causes large numbers of figs to plummet to the ground; these fallen fruits either being dislodged accidently, or found to be unripe and, therefore, discarded (4). Like other green pigeon species, the large green pigeon is believed to spend most of its life in trees, visiting the ground for short periods only to swallow grit, which helps its gizzard to grind up food that it has ingested (3).
Little is known about this species’ reproductive biology. Sightings of pigeons copulating, collecting nest material and apparently perched on nests, which appear to be little more than a platform of twigs, have been recorded in January, April, July, August and November, while sightings of birds with eggs have been made in January and March. The large green pigeon does not appear to be migratory, although on one occasion a bird was witnessed making a long-distance night-time movement, and flocks have been known to relocate according to fig tree fruiting cycles (4).Top
Large green pigeon range
This species is found throughout the Sundaland region, an area that includes the Thai-Malay Peninsula and the Greater Sunda Islands. It is currently found in localised regions within Peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Historical records indicate that it was also found in Myanmar and Java, but there are no recent records to indicate whether the species still survives in these countries (2).Top
Large green pigeon habitat
The large green pigeon is an arboreal species, and is found, predominantly, in lowland forest, though occasionally in foothills up to elevations of 1,500 metres. It will inhabit primary or logged forest (2), but prefers older forests, where the tree spacing is less dense (3). It is dependant on the presence of fruit trees for food, particularly fig trees (2).Top
Large green pigeon status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Large green pigeon threats
Once almost entirely forested, the Sundaland region has, today, lost vast amounts of its original forest cover. Lowland regions have undergone the most extensive deforestation, with logging, clearance for agriculture, and conversion to rubber and oil palm plantations some of the chief causes of this loss. As these processes are ongoing, there is a serious threat of almost complete clearance of the lowland forest to which the large green pigeon is restricted (5). With its specialist diet, the large green pigeon is one of the more vulnerable of Sundaland’s native species and, unfortunately, selective logging targets the fig tree species that the bird depends upon for its survival (4). Despite the large green pigeon’s occurrence in several protected areas throughout its range, many of these are poorly managed and illegal logging is an ongoing problem (2) (5). The large green pigeon, like other species of large pigeon in Asia, is also widely hunted for food, and, as habitat loss causes its population to decline, hunting pressure is likely to become more of a threat (4).Top
Large green pigeon conservation
There are no specific measures in place to protect the large green pigeon at present. Protection only exists for populations found in protected areas, and even in these regions, enforcement of habitat conservation regulations is often lacking. There is an undeniable need for the expansion of the lowland forest protected area network (2). In addition, more information is required about the large green pigeon’s population, distribution and ecology, so that specific conservation strategies can be developed; for example, to ascertain the numbers of fig trees that must be preserved in order to sustain viable populations of the bird (4).
A recent effort towards the conservation of lowland forest within the large green pigeon’s range is the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, developed by the BirdLife International Partnership, which aims to conserve and restore Indonesian rainforests on Sumatra. In 2006, the project won a government tender to manage a region of lowland forest covering 100,000 hectares for 100 years (6). The conservation and reforestation measures that will be undertaken in this area will provide a refuge for the large green pigeon, and other threatened species, from the destruction of forests elsewhere in their range.Top
Find out more
For further information about the Harapan Rainforest Initiative see:
- BirdLife International:
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- An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
- In birds, a thick-walled muscular chamber in which tough food is ground up, sometimes with the aid of ingested pebbles or grit.
- Relating to a forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
- IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
- Birdlife International (October, 2008)
- Hildyard, A. (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
- BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
- Crosby, M.J. (2003) Saving Asia’s Threatened Birds: a Guide for Government and Civil Society. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
- Birdlife International (October, 2008)
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