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Pied Cuckoo-Dove

Reinwardtoena browni

The pied cuckoo-dove, a large and distinctive member of the pigeon family, boasts a length of 40–46 cm and a weight of 279–325 g. Its plumage is a striking contrast of black and white, with the head and underparts presenting a whitish hue, while the wings, tail, and upperparts exhibit a glossy blue-black sheen. Both male and female adults share this coloration, while juveniles display a predominantly sooty-grey plumage.

Identification Tips

This species is characterized by its black-and-white coloration, making it quite unmistakable within its range. The great cuckoo-dove is its closest look-alike, but the pied cuckoo-dove can be distinguished by its shorter tail and the absence of chestnut-brown in its plumage.

Habitat

The pied cuckoo-dove is a denizen of the rainforest and coastal scrub, favoring tall forests in lowland and hilly terrains up to elevations of 1,000 m. It is most commonly found in the hills and shows a moderate tolerance for degraded forest habitats.

Distribution

Endemic to the Bismarck Archipelago, this species graces the islands of New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover, Umboi, Lolobau, Duke of York, Lihir, Tabar, Watom, Manus, Rambutyo, and Nauna.

Behaviour

A somewhat elusive bird, the pied cuckoo-dove is typically encountered alone or in pairs, foraging in the midstorey or canopy. It roosts within the forest, sometimes on exposed branches and vines.

Song & Calls

The pied cuckoo-dove's call is a distinctive series of notes that carry far through the forest, beginning with a short note, followed by a long, rising mournful note, and concluding with two low-pitched notes.

Breeding

The breeding habits of the pied cuckoo-dove are largely a mystery. Courtship displays have been observed from March to August, depending on the location. The only known nest, discovered in 1930, was a simple twig structure containing a single white egg.

Diet and Feeding

This species has a diet consisting primarily of fruit, including various berries found within its forest habitat.

Conservation status

The pied cuckoo-dove is currently classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. With an estimated population of 15,000–30,000 birds, it faces threats from logging and potentially hunting. Recent studies suggest a moderate tolerance to habitat degradation, leading to discussions about possibly downlisting its conservation status.

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