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A photo of a Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia melanoleuca)
Wonga Pigeon

Wonga Pigeon

Leucosarcia melanoleuca

The wonga pigeon, known scientifically as Leucosarcia melanoleuca, is a robust and plump bird, with a notably short neck, broad wings, and an elongated tail. Adult birds typically measure between 38 to 40 centimeters in length. They exhibit a pastel blue-grey plumage on their backs, while their heads transition into a creamy-white hue. The underparts are predominantly white, adorned with dark grey spots that form a distinctive white 'V' on the chest. Their eyes are a deep red-brown, encircled by pink eye-rings, and their legs are a vivid red. Both sexes are similar in appearance, though juveniles are somewhat browner and have a less pronounced 'V' pattern.

Identification Tips

When identifying the wonga pigeon, look for its large size and the characteristic white 'V' on its chest. The combination of pastel blue-grey back feathers, creamy-white head, and spotted underparts are distinctive. The red legs and pink eye-rings are also key features to note. Juveniles may be identified by their overall browner plumage and less distinct chest pattern.

Habitat

Wonga pigeons are found in a variety of forested environments including rainforests, wet eucalypt forests, and coastal forests. They are also known to frequent human-altered landscapes such as picnic areas, walking tracks, car parks, and gardens.

Distribution

This species is endemic to eastern Australia, with a range extending from Central Queensland to Gippsland in eastern Victoria. However, their presence has become rarer in areas such as Cairns and the Dandenongs due to factors like land clearance, historical shootings, and predation by foxes.

Behaviour

Wonga pigeons are elusive and are more often heard than seen. They are ground-dwelling birds that can produce a startling clapping sound with their wings when disturbed. They are typically solitary or found in pairs.

Song & Calls

The vocalization of the wonga pigeon is a loud, high-pitched 'coo' that can be heard repeating for extended periods. During mating displays, males may bow and emit a soft, trilling coo.

Breeding

These monogamous birds breed from October to January. They construct a simple twig platform nest, which can be located from 3 to 20 meters above the ground. Occasionally, they may repurpose nests from other species such as topknot pigeons or tawny frogmouths. Typically, two eggs are laid, each measuring up to 4 centimeters in length.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the wonga pigeon consists mainly of fruits, berries, and seeds from native forest trees, supplemented occasionally by insects. They forage predominantly on the ground.

Conservation status

The wonga pigeon is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

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