The Victoria crowned pigeon (Goura victoria ) is a large, bluish-grey pigeon with elegant blue lace-like crests, maroon breast and red irises. It is part of a genus (Goura ) of four unique, very large, ground-dwelling pigeons native to the New Guinea region. The bird may be easily recognized by the unique white tips on its crests and by its deep 'whooping' sounds made while calling. Its name commemorates the British monarch Queen Victoria.
The Victoria crowned pigeon is a large, bluish-grey pigeon with elegant blue lace-like crests, maroon breast, and red eyes. It is part of a genus (Goura) of four unique, very large, ground-dwelling pigeons native to the New Guinea region. The bird may be easily recognized by the unique white tips on its crests and by its deep 'whooping' sounds made while calling.
Victoria crowned pigeons are found in northern New Guinea and surrounding islands and in parts of Indonesia. They inhabit lowland moist and swamp forests and often occur in areas that were former alluvial plains, including sago forests.
Victoria crowned pigeons are gregarious birds. They usually travel in pairs or small groups as they search for food. They walk with an unhurried gait along the forest floor. Victoria crowned pigeons spend most of their time on the ground and fly up into trees only when disturbed or to roost at night. When disturbed, these birds fly straight up into the canopy or a large horizontal branch of a large forest tree. After being disturbed, they may remain on their perch for a considerable time engaging in contact calls and flicking their tails. The males regularly engage in aggressive displays to establish dominance. In these interactions, the pigeons puff up their chests and repeatedly raise their wings as if preparing to strike their opponent. They also make short dashes at each other and may actually hit one another, but rarely make contact and can be completely peaceful towards other males outside of the early mating season. Victoria crowned pigeons use various calls to communicate with each other. Their contact call is a deep, muffled, and rather human-like 'ummm' or 'hmmm'. They make a loud clapping sound when they take flight and their mating calls consist of a deep 'hoota-hoota-hoota-hoota-hoota' sound. When defending their territories, these birds make a resounding 'whup-up, whup-up, whup-up' call.
Victoria crowned pigeons are monogamous and mate for life. Their breeding season peaks late in the wet season and in the dry season. When the male displays for the female, he lowers his head down, stretches forward, and then rhythmically swings his head up and down while simultaneously wagging his fanned tail. Although the female does most direct brooding, both parents help raise the young. The female usually lays a single white egg in a well-built tree nest of stems, sticks, and palm leaves. In the weeks before she lays the egg, the male brings nesting material to the female. The egg is incubated around 30 days. The chicks are altricial meaning they hatch helpless, blind, and require parental care. The young leave the nest when they are still much smaller than their parents but are actively tended to for a total of 13 weeks. They become reproductively mature at fifteen months of age.
The Victoria crowned pigeon is now the most rarely occurring of the three crowned pigeon species in the wild, although it is the most widely kept species in captivity. Perhaps the most pressing threat to the species is continuing habitat loss due to logging. It now quite uncommon near human habitations because it is heavily hunted around them, particularly in areas where gun possession is prevalent. It can be quite tame and easily shot, though now seems to be fearful of humans in the wild. Most hunting is for its plumes and meat.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Victoria crowned pigeon is around 10,000-20,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.