Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

A fairly sociable species, the southern crowned-pigeon is usually encountered in small groups of three to seven individuals, although large flocks of up to 30 have been observed in the past (2). In these parties, they search on the forest floor for fallen fruits and seeds, and also feed on small crabs found on muddy river banks (2) (4). During the hottest part of the day, the southern crowned-pigeon perches in dense shrubs, attempting to escape the tropical heat (2). If disturbed, the southern crowned-pigeon will often run for cover, but if sufficiently alarmed, it will fly to a perch in a large tree and will remain there, nervously wagging its tail (2) (4). Breeding in the southern crowned-pigeon has been observed from September to early November, but the breeding season is probably longer than this. A well-built, neat nest made of sticks, dead stems and palm leaves with a shallow depression lined with leaves, is situated 4 to 15 metres above ground on a tree branch. Into this nest a single, white egg is laid (2). Like other pigeons, the southern crowned pigeon produces crop-milk, a nutritious secretion from the lining of the crop, which is regurgitated to feed the chick (6)
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Description

It is hard to believe that this stunning bird is related to the rather drab pigeon seen on the streets of England every day. The striking headdress of blue-grey, lacy feathers is the southern crowned-pigeon's most prominent feature, with the rest of the plumage also primarily blue-grey, and its breast and belly a rich maroon. A black 'mask' sits around the red eyes and its legs and feet are purplish-red (2) (4).
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Comprehensive Description

It has a bluish-grey plumage with elaborate blue lacy crests, red iris and very deep maroon breast. Both sexes are similar. There are two subspecies of the Southern Crowned Pigeon, differentiated by their shoulder and belly colorations. Goura scheepmakeri sclateri of southwest New Guinea with maroon shoulders and blue-grey belly, and the nominate race Goura scheepmakeri scheepmakeri of southeast New Guinea with blue-grey shoulders and maroon below. This species was first discovered new to science by Otto Finsch who found a live bird received from the dealer C. Scheepmaker in Amsterdam Zoo and named it after him. The striking headdress of blue-grey, lacy feathers is the southern crowned-pigeon’s most prominent feature, with the rest of the plumage also primarily blue-grey, and its breast and belly a rich maroon. A black ‘mask’ sits around the red eyes and its legs and feet are purplish-red

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Distribution

Range Description

Goura scheepmakeri occurs in the southern lowlands of New Guinea, (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea). It has not been recorded west of Etna Bay and is absent from much, if not all, of southern Trans-Fly (N. Stronach in litt. 1994) but ranges to the far east of New Guinea at Orangerie Bay (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, King and Nijboer 1994). Although it is rare or extirpated around most villages, it has a huge range and is still locally common in remote regions of Papua and Western and Gulf Provinces in Papua New Guinea (Beehler et al. 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, 2000, I. Burrows in litt. 1994, P. Gregory in litt. 1994) and was found to be fairly common in the Lakekamu Basin even where hunted regularly (Beehler et al. 1994, B. Beehler in litt. 2012).

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Range

Occurs in the southern lowlands of New Guinea (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) (5).
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Subspecies and Distribution:


    * sclaterii Salvadori, 1876 - S New Guinea from R Mimika E to R Fly. * scheepmakeri Finsch, 1876 - S coast of SE New Guinea from Hall Sound and Mt Epa E to Orangerie Bay.


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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

It has a bluish-grey plumage with elaborate blue lacy crests, red iris and very deep maroon breast. Both sexes are similar. There are two subspecies of the Southern Crowned Pigeon, differentiated by their shoulder and belly colorations. Goura scheepmakeri sclateri of southwest New Guinea with maroon shoulders and blue-grey belly, and the nominate race Goura scheepmakeri scheepmakeri of southeast New Guinea with blue-grey shoulders and maroon below. This species was first discovered new to science by Otto Finsch who found a live bird received from the dealer C. Scheepmaker in Amsterdam Zoo and named it after him. The striking headdress of blue-grey, lacy feathers is the southern crowned-pigeon’s most prominent feature, with the rest of the plumage also primarily blue-grey, and its breast and belly a rich maroon. A black ‘mask’ sits around the red eyes and its legs and feet are purplish-red

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits undisturbed dry and flooded forest, often alluvial, in the lowlands to 500 m (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986). It feeds on the ground in small flocks of 2-10 birds (historically up to 30 birds [Ramsay 1879]) and roosts in trees. Captive birds start breeding from 15 months old, lay a single egg, and tend to the fledgling for some months after hatching (King and Nijboer 1994).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The southern crowned-pigeon inhabits dry and flooded forest, from the flat floodplains up to 500 metres in the foothills (2)
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The southern crowned-pigeon inhabits dry and flooded forest, from the flat floodplains up to 500 metres in the foothills A fairly sociable species, the southern crowned-pigeon is usually encountered in small groups of three to seven individuals, although large flocks of up to 30 have been observed in the past.

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Trophic Strategy

They search on the forest floor for fallen fruits and seeds, and also feed on small crabs found on muddy river banks.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Reproduction

Breeding in the southern crowned-pigeon has been observed from September to early November, but the breeding season is probably longer than this. A well-built, neat nest made of sticks, dead stems and palm leaves with a shallow depression lined with leaves, is situated 4 to 15 metres above ground on a tree branch. Into this nest a single, white egg is laid. Like other pigeons, the southern crowned pigeon produces crop-milk, a nutritious secretion from the lining of the crop, which is regurgitated to feed the chick

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Symes, A. & Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Beehler, B., Bishop, K., Burrows, I., Gregory, P., Kula, G. & Stronach, N.

Justification
This species is categorised as Vulnerable because its population is suspected to be rapidly declining owing to hunting and loss and degradation of its lowland forest habitat. However, there are few quantitative data and new information may lead to its reclassification.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Vulnerable

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Population

Population
The population is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals, equating to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This large species is prized by hunters for meat and, to a lesser extent, for its feathers (Beehler 1985). It has been hunted to extinction throughout much of its range in the south-east (Schodde 1978, Coates 1985, G. R. Kula in litt. 1988). It has become extirpated from the vicinity of some transmigration settlements in Papua where it had survived constant hunting from indigenous people (King and Nijboer 1994). However, the species is fairly difficult to hunt without a shotgun (which are essentially no longer available in New Guinea) as it flushes at considerable distance (c.40 m) and perches high in the middle-story, out of the reach of hunters with bows (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). The species was found to be fairly common in the Lakekamu Basin even where hunted regularly (Beehler et al. 1994, B. Beehler in litt. 2012), suggesting it may be able to tolerate some hunting pressure. Lowland forests, particularly on the flat terrain favoured by this species, are threatened by logging and the development of oil palm plantations, and although its tolerance of logged forest is poorly known, logging roads open up access to hunters (King and Nijboer 1994, I. Burrows in litt. 1994, P. Gregory in litt. 1994, B. Beehler in litt. 2012), as does oil and gas exploration in Papua (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, 2000). Capture for trade may be significant (King and Nijboer 1994).

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Historically, the southern crowned-pigeon was a common species, but it has become scarcer as trapping and hunting take their toll (2). They are an easy and highly prized target for local hunters who kill them for their meat and feathers, capture live young birds to be kept as pets (4), or use in traditional ceremonies (7), or sell them internationally as the southern crowned-pigeon is a popular aviary bird (4). The southern crowned-pigeon has been hunted to extinction throughout much of its range in the south-east and now survives only in forests far away from towns, villages and roads, and the associated threat of humans. Unfortunately, its preferred habitat is also highly desired by timber companies and as logging opens up more remote areas, creating access for hunters, the southern crowned-pigeon is likely to become increasingly threatened (2) (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Education and research programmes are planned in Papua New Guinea (King and Nijboer 1994). It is protected by law in Papua New Guinea.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey western extreme of range. Determine population size and density in study areas such as Lakekamu and Kikori Basins. Assess hunting levels through discussion with local hunters. Investigate population trends through discussion with local hunters. Ascertain tolerance of logged forest. Monitor numbers traded. Monitor population in study areas. Establish more community-based conservation areas in lowlands. Enforce protection in uninhabited reserve areas. Launch public awareness programmes to reduce hunting. Utilise as a flagship species in ecotourism ventures.

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Conservation

The southern crowned-pigeon is protected by law in Papua New Guinea (5), and it is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). In addition, the Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation has initiated conservation efforts, including educating local people in forest management (4). Further research into this handsome bird and efforts to protect its critical habitat has been recommended (5).
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Wikipedia

Southern Crowned Pigeon

The southern crowned pigeon (Goura scheepmakeri) is a large, terrestrial pigeon confined to southern lowland forests of New Guinea. It has a bluish-grey plumage with elaborate blue lacy crests, red iris and very deep maroon breast. Both sexes have a similar appearance. It is on average 70 cm (28 in) long and weighs 2,250 grams (5 lbs).[2]

There are two subspecies of the southern crowned pigeon, differentiated by their shoulder and belly colorations. Goura scheepmakeri sclateri of southwest New Guinea with maroon shoulders and blue-grey belly, and the nominate race Goura scheepmakeri scheepmakeri of southeast New Guinea with blue-grey shoulders and maroon below. It also looks very similar to its relatives, the Victoria crowned pigeon, and the western crowned pigeon.

Illustration by Otto Finsch (1875)

This species was first discovered new to science by Otto Finsch who found a live bird received from the dealer C. Scheepmaker in Amsterdam Zoo and named it after him.[3]

Being tame and heavily hunted for its meat and plumes, the southern crowned pigeon is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Goura scheepmakeri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World" by David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes & John Cox. Yale University Press (2001), ISBN 0-300-07886-2.
  3. ^ Finsch, Otto (1875). "On a new species of crown-pigeon". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 631–633. 
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