Friday, July 13, 2012

Interesting Animal: Victoria Crowned Pigeon

A Victoria crowned pigeon (Goura victoria), showing off its flashy crest
The Victoria crowned pigeon is perhaps the most unusual looking member of the pigeon family. Blue in color with a maroon chest and head topped with lacy feathers, these birds are definitely unique. Also rather unusual is that these traits, particularly the crest, are usually seen in only males of countless bird species. Instead, Victoria crowned pigeons all look alike.

Strutting pigeon
The species is native to New Guinea and Indonesia, where it prefers lowland swampy areas and forests of sago palms. They forage in groups and mostly eat fruits and seeds. Males use courtship behavior to find a mate, which includes head bowing and tail movements.

The species is currently considered Threatened and their numbers are declining. Due to its beauty, it is hunted for its feathers. It is also eaten, either as a result of hunting or capturing of nestlings which are then raised for food. Apparently, it's very hard to hunt the birds if you don't use a shotgun due to their flight distance. In New Guinea at least, shotguns aren't really available. Of course, efforts are being undertaken to work on helping keep the species around, which include such efforts as encouraging ecotourism.

Sources are ARKive, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bird Life International, and the IUCN Red List. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

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