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Species Guide
A photo of a Great Cuckoo-Dove (Reinwardtoena reinwardti)
Great Cuckoo-Dove

Great Cuckoo-Dove

Reinwardtoena reinwardti

The great cuckoo-dove, Reinwardtoena reinwardti, is a large and distinctive member of the pigeon family, Columbidae. With a length ranging from 47.5 to 52.5 cm and a weight between 208 and 305 grams, it presents a striking figure. The adult's plumage is a study in contrasts: a whitish or blue-grey head, neck, and breast, pale bluish-grey underparts, and chestnut-brown upperparts. The outer wings are a deep black, adding to the bird's dramatic appearance.

Identification Tips

Males and females can be distinguished by subtle differences in eye color and the vibrancy of the orbital skin, with males sporting yellowish-white irises with a red outer ring, and females showing more yellowish irises and duller orbital skin. Juveniles are primarily dull grey-brown with dirty-white throats and bellies, lacking the adults' vibrant coloration.


This species is most commonly found in primary forests and forest edges, though it can also be seen in logged forests and secondary growth. It thrives from sea level to mountainous regions, reaching elevations up to 3,380 meters in New Guinea.


The great cuckoo-dove's range spans New Guinea, several surrounding islands, and parts of Wallacea. It is a resident bird across this region, with its presence confirmed on numerous islands including Buru, Ambon, Seram, and Halmahera.


Typically solitary or seen in pairs, the great cuckoo-dove may join larger flocks at fruiting trees. It exhibits a unique behavior of defending fruiting shrubs from other birds, a rare trait among frugivorous species.

Song & Calls

The bird's vocal repertoire includes a distinctive "cookuwook" call, reminiscent of the brown cuckoo-dove but with a slower, more trisyllabic quality. A second call, a series of deep hoo notes, has been likened to "insane laughter."


Breeding occurs throughout the year, with a peak from October to December in New Guinea. Nests are constructed as flat or slightly concave platforms of sticks, moss, roots, and ferns, usually containing a single white egg.

Similar Species

The great cuckoo-dove could be mistaken for the "slender-billed cuckoo dove" complex, but can be differentiated by its larger size and the stark contrast between its pale underparts and richly colored upperparts.

Diet and Feeding

Favoring fruits and seeds, the great cuckoo-dove forages primarily in the canopy, occasionally descending to the ground. It shows a preference for plants in the Araliaceae family, particularly the genus Heptapleurum.

Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the great cuckoo-dove as Least Concern, recognizing its extensive range and stable population numbers. While generally uncommon, it can be locally abundant in certain highland areas.

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