Pigeons aren’t exactly the first of our winged friends that come to mind when we think about beautiful birds. They have proven their value as messaging birds and are still used today for pigeon races in various parts of Europe.
Some of the 344 species of pigeons, however, look pretty amazing. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Victoria crowned pigeon (Goura victoria), one of the most beautiful pigeons in the world.
1. It’s one of the 4 types of pigeons in a remarkable genus
The Victoria Crowned Pigeon can easily be described as one of the most beautiful pigeons in the world. They are predominantly blue and have a remarkable lace-like crest on top of their heads.
This crest is further decorated with white tips, a distinctive feature that makes them easily recognizable. The overall color scheme of their feathers is deep blue-grey and the feathers on their wings are of a paler shade.
They are one of the 4 boards in the genus “Goura” or “Crowned Pigeons” which in turn is part of the family Columbidae. The other 3 species, which all have a very similar appearance and remarkable crest on their heads, are the:
- Western crowned pigeon (Goura cristata)
- Scheepmaker’s crowned pigeon (Goura sheepmakeri)
- Sclater’s crowned pigeon (Goura sclaterii)
2. They are native to a particular region in Oceania
One of the most interesting facts about the Victoria crowned pigeon is that they are native to a specific region in Oceania. They originate from the swamps and lowlands of the northern part of New Guinea and some of the surrounding islands.
New Guinea is the second-largest island on the planet and is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. They prefer flat parts of the island referred to as alluvial planes which are formed by rivers coming from the mountains.
These ground-dwelling birds are mostly found around the coastal areas but travel back and forth from the sea to the sago forests in the northern part of New Guinea every day.
3. How big are Victoria crowned pigeons?
The other distinctive feature of the Victoria crowned pigeon is the sheer size of these birds. Adult birds have a length of anywhere between 73 and 75 centimeters (29 and 30 inches).
Some individuals might even reach a length of over 80 centimeters (31 inches)! That’s quite a pigeon, don’t you think?
This also translates into the average weight being around 2.39 kilos (5.3 lb) and some individuals reaching a weight of 3.5 kilos (7.7 lb).
Other dimensions of Victoria crowned pigeons are:
- Wing length: between 36 and 39 centimeters (14 and 15 inches)
- Tail length: between 27 and 30.1 centimeters (10.6 and 11.9 inches)
- Bill length: between 3.2 and 3.5 centimeters (1.3 and 1.4 inches)
4. These are social animals but are usually shy when it comes to humans
Victoria crowned pigeons are ground-dwelling creatures that roam around the forest floor looking for food. You won’t find them alone, though, because these are sociable creatures that usually travel in pairs or small groups.
They are, however, one of the shier species of crowned pigeons which makes it complicated to approach them in the wild. They will instantly fly into the canopy of the trees or nestle themselves onto a tree branch.
These pigeons have distinctive ways to communicate with each other and can produce different sounds for mating calls, defending their territory, and when they simply want another bird to approach them.
5. What do these birds eat?
These birds roam around the floor of the dense forests in the northern part of New Guinea, and their main occupation is looking for food. They do this in a pretty relaxed manner unless they are being disturbed.
This usually consists of different types of fruits that have fallen from the trees but can also occasionally consist of seeds and invertebrates.
In captivity, the most popular food among these birds is figs, a type of fruit they can feast on all day long.
More interesting facts about the Victoria crowned pigeon
6. With a potential length of over 80 centimeters (31 inches) and a weight of up to 3.5 kilos (7.7 lb) they are slightly larger than the other species of crowned pigeons.
This size and weight also make them the largest surviving species of pigeons on the planet.
7. Crowned pigeons were considered to be beautiful when they were first introduced by English naturalist James Francis Stephens (1792-1852) in 1819.
That’s why he named one of the species of this genus after the British monarch, Queen Victoria. It’s one of the many animals that was named after her.
8. There are two subspecies of the Victoria crowned pigeon called the G. v. beccarii, which can be found on the mainland of New Guinea, and the G. v. victoria.
9. The G. v. victoria is the nominate species and can only be found on the nearby islands of Yapen, Biak, and Supiori. These islands are part of Papua in Indonesia.
Equally remarkable is the fact that the main species is remarkably smaller than the one living on the mainland and has a darker color scheme. The length of their wings is anywhere between 31.6 and 33.2 centimeters (12.4 and 13.1 inches).
9. Unlike some other beautiful birds such as peacocks, both the male and females look very similar. Males tend to behave dominantly compared to others, but this aggressiveness is only limited to the mating season.
10. The mating season of these birds takes place at the end of the wet season and during the dry season. The males make distinctive calls during this period and they perform a remarkable show in which they wave their crests back and forth to impress the females.
11. The eggs are incubated for just 30 days and the chicks are raised by both parents. This period only lasts about 13 weeks after which the young birds leave their parent’s guardianship.
12. Unfortunately, these birds have been assigned a Near-Threatened status on the IUCN Red List. It’s assumed that only between 10,000 and 20,000 birds still roam around the dense forests of New Guinea and the surrounding islands today.
These are, however, amazing birds in are kept in the most popular zoos. This means that they can be admired there just about anywhere in the world.