GENUS & SPECIES
• Male bows his head during courtship displays to show off his splendid crest
• One of the largest pigeons in the world, almost the size of an average turkey
• Adults produce crop milk to feed their young
• The male makes a unique, loud booming sound during the courtship ritual
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Traveling in small flocks, the colorful Victoria crowned pigeon makes a dazzling sight as the birds search their forest habitat for food that has fallen from the trees.
The Victoria crowned pigeon lives in the lush rainforests, which are rich in fruit trees for the birds to feed on.The pigeon also occupies muddy lowland flats in swamps and sago palm forests, as well as drier forest in the tropics of New Guinea. Some populations have been found in the Jimi Valley, at elevations between 1,500-2,300′. This sedentary bird nests close to rivers and swamps where vegetation is dense, and in virgin forests, far away from the crush of human civilization.
Pigeon perch A crowned pigeon perches in the trees of its lush rainforest home.
Members of the genus Goura do not have a gallbladder and also lack an oil gland for preening.
The bird is supposedly named for Queen Victoria, who had a penchant for wearing elaborate feathered headwear.
The Victoria crowned pigeon apparently has no natural predators in the forest other than man, who hunts the colorfully plumed pigeon for its beautiful feathers and meat, which is considered quite a delicacy by some cultures.
The loud, booming call of the male Victoria crowned pigeon resounds throughout the rainforest during the bird’s fall breeding season. He also displays his feathery colorful crest to the female by nodding his lowered head. Continuing with the elaborate courtship ritual, the male makes his unique call as he fans his tail up and down vigorously The female pigeon responds by spreading her wings and raising them up as she runs alongside the male with slightly bent legs, hissing along the way. Before mating, the male and female crowned pigeon will preen each other carefully while perched on the fork of a tree branch. The breeding pair builds its nest up to 50′ above the ground, usually in a rainforest tree.The nest is a neat, solid, compact mass of tightly woven palm leaves, sticks and stems, in which the female lays one large white egg. Both parents will take turns incubating the single egg for approximately 30 days. Once the lone chick hatches, the parents feed it crop milk; this nutritious food is produced by both sexes in the crop, which is an extension of the esophagus. The thick milk has the same consistency as cottage cheese. Fed on this milk, the young crowned pigeon grows fast. In fact, by 4 weeks the chick is ready to fly from the nest. However, the young bird is still fed by the protective parents until it is about 13 weeks old.
The male’s call gets the female’s attention as he lowers his head, offering a full view of his crest.
The blue male and female are a stunning sight to behold as they preen each other.
The breeding pair works together to build a tidy, compact nest of leaves and sticks.
The pair takes turns incubating a single egg.The adult’s feet grip the nest as it waits to be relieved.
FOOD & FEEDING
Feeding mainly on fallen fruits, berries and seeds, the crowned pigeon often forages on the forest floor in groups of 2-10.The pigeon scoops up fruits and berries and will crack the seeds with its sharp, hooked beak.
Unlike other birds, pigeons immerse their bill in water and are then able to swallow without raising their heads.
Dressed for dinner Two pigeons forage in their colorful plumage.
Although not globally threatened, the Victoria crowned pigeon is considered vulnerable by CITES II because it continues to be threatened by agricultural logging, capture for the lucrative pet trade and hunting for its meat and colorful plumes. Despite being protected by law in New Guinea, the Victoria crowned pigeon has all but disappeared from large areas of forest.
Little is known of the habits of the three species of crowned pigeons, other than what has been observed in zoos and among collectors of the birds. The Victoria crowned pigeon travels in small groups that spend most of their day searching for fallen fruits and berries;the pigeon remains near its food source and perches on branches. After preening its feathers, the pigeon bathes in pools of water among the fallen leaves of the forest. Virtually defenseless against hunters and feather collectors, the pigeon flies noisily up into the trees when alarmed or disturbed.
Pretty pigeon The crowned pigeon bathes and preens often.
Victoria Crowned Pigeon
The Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is found on the Nicobar Islands, New Guinea, through Indonesia and the Philippines, a range that overlaps with the Victoria crowned pigeon’s. In addition, the Nicobar pigeon shares other common traits with the Victoria crowned pigeon: it also feeds on seeds and fruits, nests high up in the trees and produces one egg. Resembling a vulture more than a pigeon, the smaller Nicobar pigeon has short plumage except on the neck where the feathers are long. Plumage is blackish-gray with a greenish tint; upperparts are dark green and the short tail is white.
|Weight||Up to 6 lbs.|
|Sexual Maturity||17 months|
|Number of Eggs||1|
|Incubation Period||. 30 days|
|Fledging Period||28 days|
|Breeding Interval||About 1 year|
|Typical Diet||Fruit, berries and seeds|
• There are 3 species the genus Goura. In addition to the Victoria crowned pigeon, the genus also includes two other crowned species: the western or blue-crowned pigeon, Goura cristata, and Southern crowned pigeon, Goura scheepmakeri. There are 49 genera and 309 species in the family Columbidae, which also includes doves, such as the emerald dove, Chalcophaps indica.