Monday, 15 March 2010
Pigeons of Bristol 3: Crowned Pigeons
All three forms have a similar habitat preference – usually low lying, and always dense, rainforest and mangroves, reaching to elevation of perhaps 500m in some parts of their range. They feed on the ground, mainly on fruits, seeds, and soil invertebrates, which they locate by flicking their beaks in a characteristic manner as they turn over the leaf litter. The nest is usually within 10m of the ground, and is a typically flimsy pigeon nest. There is usually only a single chick, which leaves the nest when it is still much smaller than the adults, although fully able to fly. They are fairly sociable birds, and flocks of up to 30 individuals have been reported.
All three species, particularly Scheepmakers, are classed by the IUCN as Vulnerable as a result of hunting (none are now found close to villages), logging which destroys their habitat and reduces the remaining forest to fragments which cannot sustain viable populations. They are also caught for the wildlife trade.
All three species of Crowned Pigeon can be found in zoos worldwide, where they always attract attention. Unfortunately the breeding record is not at all good, although the birds themselves are very long lived – over 30 years has been reported. The reason for the poor breeding success is unclear, although they appear to react badly to disturbance or rearrangement of their enclosures. Another likely suspect is diet – like all too many animals there is little known of the wild diet. The current status of the captive populations, according to ISIS, is as follows:
Blue or Western Crowned Pigeon G.cristata – 190 worldwide, 8 hatched in last 12 months.
Scheepmakers Crowned Pigeon, G.scheepmakeri – 92, 10 hatched in last 12 months
Next week I will discuss one of tropical pigeon we have been most successful with – the Nicobar Pigeon. Among its other distinctions it is believed to perhaps the closest living relative of the Dodo.
(images from Wikipedia)