Friday 17 May
Western crowned-pigeon (Goura cristata)
Western crowned-pigeon fact file
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Western crowned-pigeon description
Challenging the traditional view of pigeons, the western crowned-pigeon is the largest pigeon in the world, measuring up favourably to a small turkey, and despite being a close relative of the bulbous dodo, it is also one of the most beautiful. With alluring blue feathers and a deep purple patch across the shoulders (4), males and females look similar (5). The finishing touches to this bird are the mask of dark blue feathers extending from the slender bill through the eye, and the fan-like crest of lacy light blue feathers on top of the small head (2). This species may also be partially or totally black (2).
- Also known as
- Blue crowned-pigeon, common crowned pigeon, great goura, masked pigeon.
- Paloma Crestada Azul.
- Length: up to 70 cm (2)
The International Dove Society:
IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
International Dove Society (November, 2004)
CITES (September, 2008)
BirdLife International (November, 2004)
- Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona..
Smithsonian National Zoological Park (November, 2004)
Exzooberance (November, 2004)
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Western crowned-pigeon biology
Western crowned-pigeons live and forage in small groups of two to ten birds (5) (6), looking for fallen fruit and seeds, as well as eating any insects they come across (6). Males and females will pair for life, but courtship is still elaborate. The male gives a loud booming call and bows his head, displaying his fanned tail and partially open wings. He will also dance with up-stretched wings, whilst the female lifts her wings high and runs around him in circles (7). He will then present nesting materials to her (7), and together they will build a flimsy stick platform in the trees (2). The female lays a single large, white egg which is incubated by the female at night and the male during the day (2). It hatches after 28 days (4), and the naked and helpless hatchling is then fed ‘pigeon’s milk’ by both the female and male – a liquid produced from partially digested food in a pouch-like enlargement of the gullet – for about a month (2). After the chick has fledged, the parents will continue to feed it for several months (4).Top
Western crowned-pigeon range
The western crowned-pigeon is found in New Guinea and other Indonesian islands (1).Top
Western crowned-pigeon habitat
Found in marshy and partly flooded forest, as well as in hilly forest up to 350 metres above sea level, forests with dense secondary growth and mangroves (4).Top
Western crowned-pigeon statusTop
Western crowned-pigeon threats
The western crowned-pigeon is heavily hunted for food and plumes, and is also trapped for aviaries. Habitat loss due to logging operations, in addition to the increased access that logging roads give to hunters, are contributing to the continuing decline of this stunning bird (4).Top
Western crowned-pigeon conservation
This species is CITES protected and occurs on some protected land, but the enforcement of this protection is lacking. It is part of several captive breeding programs and much has been proposed to halt its decline. Extensive surveys to clarify the current range and population status are planned, as is research to determine the pigeon’s tolerance of disturbed habitat. Plans to control trade and hunting are essential to the survival of the western crowned-pigeon (4).Top
Find out more
For further information on the western-crowned pigeon see:
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