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A photo of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria)
Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Goura victoria

The Victoria crowned pigeon, Goura victoria, presents a majestic figure with its bluish-grey plumage and striking blue lace-like crests. It is adorned with a maroon breast and captivating red irises. This species is distinguished by the white tips of its crest feathers and is renowned for its deep 'whooping' calls. Named in honor of Queen Victoria, it is the largest extant pigeon species, a true regal representative of the avian world.

Identification Tips

This pigeon's deep blue-grey coloration is complemented by a small, black facial mask. The white-tipped feather crest is a hallmark of the species, along with a row of paler blue-grey wing coverts tipped in maroon, forming a distinct wing bar. The chest is a rich purple-maroon. Both sexes appear similar, with the bird's length ranging from 73 to 75 cm and some individuals exceeding 80 cm and 3.5 kg in weight. The Victoria crowned pigeon is slightly larger than its relatives, with a mean adult body mass of 2.39 kg.

Habitat

The Victoria crowned pigeon inhabits the lowland and swamp forests of northern New Guinea and nearby islands. It favors former alluvial plains and sago forests, and although it is typically found at sea level, it may occasionally ascend hills to elevations of about 3,000 feet.

Distribution

This species is divided into two subspecies: G. v. beccarii, which resides on the mainland of New Guinea, and G. v. victoria, the nominate race, found on the islands of Yapen, Biak, and Supiori. The nominate subspecies is notably smaller and darker in plumage.

Behaviour

The Victoria crowned pigeon is a sociable bird, often seen in pairs or small groups foraging for fallen fruit, which is their primary diet. They may also consume seeds and invertebrates. When startled, they ascend to the canopy or a large tree branch, where they may engage in contact calls and tail flicking. Males exhibit aggressive displays for dominance, involving chest puffing and wing raising.

Song & calls

This species produces a loud clapping sound upon taking flight. Its mating calls resemble those of other crowned pigeons, a deep hoota-hoota sequence. Territorial calls are a resounding whup-up, while contact calls are deep and muffled, akin to a human's ummm or hmmm.

Breeding

Breeding peaks in the late wet season and dry season. The male's courtship display involves head bobbing and tail fanning. Both parents participate in rearing the young, with the female laying a single white egg in a robust tree nest. Incubation lasts around 30 days, and the young are tended to for 13 weeks.

Conservation status

The Victoria crowned pigeon is classified as Near Threatened due to habitat loss from logging and hunting for plumes and meat. It is now rare near human settlements, especially in areas with prevalent gun ownership. Although trapping for captivity is illegal, it may still occur. The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

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Victoria Crowned Pigeons on Birda

Sightings
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Jackson Dando
17 Jan 2023 - 12:23pm
Australia

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