The crowned dove is a large beautiful bird that attracts attention with its plumage. Due to their large size and appearance, it is difficult to attribute them to the pigeons we are used to. These are friendly birds that can even be kept at home.
Origin of the species and description
The crowned pigeon is both a genus of birds and a specific species from the pigeon family. These pigeons were discovered in 1819 and immediately caused a lot of controversy. The fact is that for a long time they could not be assigned to any genus due to different phylogenetics, therefore, until today, they are conditionally in the new genus of crowned pigeons.
There was a version that the species of crowned pigeons, and also the maned and serrated dove are one branch, the closest relatives of which are the extinct dodos and hermits. But due to the unusual DNA structure, crowned pigeons are still in a state of “uncertainty”.
Video: Crowned pigeon
The problem also lies in the fact that for a long time the crowned pigeon was considered an artificially bred and feral species of pigeons. However, this theory has not been confirmed, although the pigeon has some external features that indicate breeding.
Interesting fact: The dodo bird is the closest relative of all pigeons, including blue city pigeons.
As a genus, the crowned pigeon contains three species that are almost identical in appearance:
- the fan-bearing crowned pigeon;
- the chestnut-breasted crowned pigeon;
- crowned dove.
The identification of these species is based only on minor morphological differences. The main species criterion is the habitat of pigeons. It has also been proven that these species are able to interbreed with each other, and their offspring are also fertile. This makes it difficult to differentiate individuals of the Crowned Pigeon.
Appearance and Features
Crowned pigeons are large birds up to 80 cm long (this is almost the size of a turkey). The weight of the male is approximately 2.5 kg., However, at home, birds are corroded up to 3 kg. Females are slightly smaller than males, but this is where the sexual dimorphism of birds ends, like most representatives of the pigeon family.
A crowned dove can be safely called a peacock among pigeons. The first thing that catches your eye is his crown of light fluffy feathers on his head, which is why he got his name. These feathers form a vertical crest. Each thin feather is topped with a small bluish tassel with white spots.
The dove has an azure blue color, sometimes varying to bluish. It has a small head, an elongated beak, pointed at the end. A black elongated spot extends from the eye to the nasal canals. The eye is bright red.
The dove has dark purple spots on the chest and under the wings. They are clearly visible when the bird soars into the air. The belly is also darker in color than the rest of the body, which is unusual for birds. In order to camouflage, birds usually have light plumage on their stomachs so that it hides them from predators during the flight.
The tail of a dove is long and wide. At the end of the tail there is a light blue horizontal strip, as if bordering it. Similar light spots are also visible on the wings of a crowned pigeon when it is in flight.
Now you know what a crowned pigeon looks like. Let's see where he lives.
Where does the crowned pigeon live?
All crowned pigeons are endemic to New Guinea, that is, they are an integral part of the fauna of this area, living and breeding exclusively there.
Depending on the species, crowned pigeons live in different places:
- the crowned pigeon lives in New Guinea;
- the fan-crowned crowned pigeon also settles in New Guinea, but rarely goes to main island. Its main habitat is the islands of Biak and Yapen;
- the south of New Guinea is inhabited by the chestnut-breasted crowned pigeon.
Extremely rare, these pigeons can also be found in the following places:
- Vogelkop Peninsula;
- Misso Islands;
- Salavati Island;
- Selam Island;
- Waigo Island.
Crowned pigeons are resident birds. They choose moist dense forests, swamps, and flooded areas as places for resettlement. Pigeons do not like to climb to great heights, so the hills where they live reach a maximum height of 600 m above sea level.
Interesting fact: Crowned pigeons are revered by the locals as birds gods who are sent to protect people from wars. There really were no wars there.
Due to the fact that the locals treated the crowned pigeons with respect and calmness, the birds acquired a completely non-shy character. They willingly settle near human habitats, feeding near pastures and agricultural lands.
Crowned pigeons are also bred at home, but this bird is demanding on living conditions. For example, as an aviary, you need to use a very large heated cage, which will be problematic to place in an apartment.
What does the crowned pigeon eat?
In the wild, crowned pigeons are mainly herbivorous birds. They eat berries, fruits, short young grass, dig up roots and fruits. They feed exclusively on the ground, which also determines the peculiar way of life of these birds. Sometimes pigeons can eat terrestrial insects, worms or larvae, but the birds do not purposefully hunt.
Zoos also keep crowned pigeons. For the health of the bird, it is fed with papaya, which is rich in useful elements. Special food for birds of paradise is also used – it is surprisingly well accepted by crowned pigeons. Germinated grains and flour worm larvae are considered very nutritious.
The nutrition of crowned pigeons kept at home must be approached with all seriousness. Birds are sensitive and reverent, so they need to be fed in a variety of ways, taking into account the peculiarities of nutrition in the wild.
The diet of domestic pigeons should include:
- grain mixtures – rye, millet, sunflower seeds, rice, corn, nuts, soybeans, peas, water-soaked beans.
- snails with shells to compensate for calcium deficiency;
- meal worms;
- raw small shrimp;
- dried crickets;
- crushed chicken egg shells along with boiled protein;
- fat-free non-acidic cottage cheese;
- small pieces of boiled poultry meat;
- carrots grated on a fine grater;
- fresh greens;
- white bread soaked in milk.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Crowned pigeons are diurnal, and they spend the whole day looking for food. They live in groups of 6-10 individuals, although sometimes there are flocks of up to 20 birds. Everyone in the pack is related; sometimes a flock may include crowned pigeons of different species.
There is no hierarchy in flocks of crowned pigeons. There are adults that form long-term pairs and live a little apart, while solitary pigeons and young go in large groups. In the evening, the birds climb onto the branches of trees, higher from the ground, although sometimes I spend the night right on the ground in dense bushes. This behavior is typical mainly for pigeons living in swampy areas.
Crowned pigeons have almost no natural enemies. Because of this, they have become trusting and good-natured in nature, which is generally not typical for birds. Often they choose villages near humid forests for settlement, and often go out to people. Crowned pigeons are curious and go to the video cameras themselves.
When a bird is in search of food, it does not rake the top layer of the earth with its paws and does not throw back fallen leaves and dry blades of grass. Instead, the pigeon simply pecks at what is in its field of vision. This behavior is justified by the fact that crowned pigeons have no food competitors, and therefore there is no need to intensively look for food – it is always literally underfoot.
Social structure and reproduction
The breeding season falls on the autumn period of time, when heavy rains begin. Males begin to dance and coo – make guttural sounds to attract females. Their dances are very beautiful: pigeons spread their wings and tails, spin around in place, trample the ground. Several males may group around the female, who will fly from place to place, trying to attract her attention.
Also, each male strives to show the female that he will be a good father. Pigeons demonstrate which place they would choose for the nest, carry twigs and leaves to the chosen one, which can be used to build a nest. The female chooses her partner by dancing and “housekeeping”.
Interesting fact: Sometimes pigeons form pairs for several seasons. Sometimes these couples are so strong that if one partner loses the other, they remain one for the rest of their lives.
After choosing a partner, the male and female crowned pigeons fly to the place where the nest will be – this is a wide thick branch, on which it is convenient to stay with the chicks. There, the pair sits and coos loudly to show everyone else in the pack that the spot is taken. Sometimes the male has to drive away other pigeons that would like to take this place too.
By mid-autumn, the nest is built – it is a large house of branches, fluff and leaves at a height of up to 10 meters above the ground. The female lays one egg in the nest, but rarely two. If she lays two eggs, the second chick will most likely die.
The female sits on the egg at night, and flies to the ground during the day to feed. During the day it is replaced by the male. Since the birds are diurnal, the male noticeably loses weight, as he feeds poorly at night and sometimes becomes a victim of predators. If a male or female dies, then the offspring will also die.
After four weeks of incubation, a chick appears. This is a helpless creature that requires a lot of food, so the male and female begin to actively search for food together, bringing worms, seeds and fruits to the chick. After 40 days, the chick is already fully feathered and ready to fly. As soon as it takes off, crowned pigeons take off their parental duties.
Natural enemies of the crowned pigeon
Crowned pigeons rarely encounter any predators. The main predator that poses a threat to these birds is the stoat. Ermines are not endemic to New Zealand – they were artificially introduced there to control the population of rabbits and hares that bred uncontrollably on the islands. Stoats coped with the decline in the rabbit population, but also decimated the population of many birds.
Before the stoat, there were no mammals in New Zealand, except for bats and marsupial wallabies, which did not pose a threat to crowned pigeons. Agile ermines hunt both at night and during the day, which greatly complicates the life of pigeons.
In addition to hunting adults, ermines ravaged the nests of crowned pigeons, dragged away chicks and ate eggs. Trusting crowned pigeons were forced to learn to be vigilant and shy. The stoat has not been able to seriously decimate the population of pigeons, but in many habitats they have become more shy – they fly up into tree branches at the first hint of danger.
Introduced cats and dogs can also prey on pigeons that live near settlements. It is not difficult to catch such a pigeon: they are slow, trusting and take off hard because of their large weight. However, it is difficult to get these birds on the trees: they patiently wait until the predator is completely out of sight, and only after that they fly back to the ground with the whole flock.
Population and status view
Crowned pigeons are not endangered. However, their numbers suffered for several reasons:
- The meat of these birds is considered a delicacy. Because of this, pigeons are bred not only in dovecotes, but also on farms, from where they are later sold for feasts. The crowned pigeon is not difficult to feed to a large size;
- feathers are sold as decorative ornaments. The issue of poaching has never been raised over crowned pigeons, but sometimes their feathers were found on the black market;
- introduced predators easily hunted crowned pigeons. These are dogs, cats and the aforementioned stoats;
- The development of new territories destroys the natural habitat of crowned pigeons. Despite the fact that they easily adapt to life next to humans, they suffer from lack of food or food toxicity – this is a consequence of the treatment of agricultural fields with pesticides.
Despite all this , the crowned pigeon is a common bird in New Zealand. They are occasionally captured for placement in zoos or for breeders' farms. A crowned pigeon can be bought by prior order for at least 60 thousand rubles. Pigeons require a spacious enclosure and excellent conditions, but if all conditions are met, they will breed effectively and live up to twenty years.
The crowned pigeon is incredibly beautiful and good-natured. You can meet these birds not only in New Zealand, but also in many zoos, where curious birds feel comfortable and willingly contact people.