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A photo of a Pheasant Pigeon (Otidiphaps nobilis)
Pheasant Pigeon

Pheasant Pigeon

Otidiphaps nobilis

The Pheasant Pigeon, Otidiphaps nobilis, is a large terrestrial pigeon, unique as the sole representative of its genus. It bears a striking resemblance to pheasants, with a laterally compressed tail and rounded wings. The bird's plumage is a glossy black on the head, underside, rear, and lower back, with short, rounded brown wings. The nape color varies among subspecies, presenting as white, green, grey, or black.

Identification Tips

To identify the Pheasant Pigeon, look for its distinctive glossy black head and underparts, complemented by brown wings. The nape color is a key identifier, differing by subspecies. The bird's pheasant-like appearance, including its tail shape and wing structure, sets it apart from other pigeons.

Habitat

This species thrives in the primary rainforests of New Guinea and adjacent islands, favoring hilly and lower mountain regions, though it can also be found in lowland areas.

Distribution

The Pheasant Pigeon is distributed across New Guinea, with its presence extending to nearby islands such as Batanta, Waigeo, and the Aru Islands, as well as Fergusson Island.

Behaviour

A highly secretive bird, the Pheasant Pigeon is known for its terrestrial lifestyle, feeding on seeds and fallen fruits. It nests on the ground, concealed beneath trees and shrubs. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the single egg and caring for the chick, feeding it with regurgitated crop milk, a common pigeon trait.

Song & Calls

The Pheasant Pigeon's vocal repertoire includes a drilling-like sound, a typical pigeon coo, and a distinctive "wu-huwoooooa" call that modulates in pitch before fading.

Breeding

Breeding behavior involves ground nesting under the cover of vegetation, with a single egg laid and incubated for approximately four weeks. Both parents are involved in the rearing of the young.

Similar Species

There are no galliform birds in New Guinea, and thus the Pheasant Pigeon has no direct avian mimics within its range. It occupies an ecological niche similar to that of a partridge or small pheasant.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of seeds and fallen fruits, which the Pheasant Pigeon forages for on the rainforest floor.

Conservation status

The species is experiencing a gradual decline due to habitat loss from logging and agricultural expansion. While the green-naped and grey-naped subspecies are not currently threatened, the black-naped Pheasant Pigeon is critically endangered, and the white-naped is vulnerable. Conservation efforts are imperative for the monitoring and protection of this unique genus.

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