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Ivory-breasted Pitta - BirdForum Opus

ssp. maxima. Photo © by THE_FERN. Pak Roji's, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2023

Alternative names: Great Pitta; Halmahera Pitta; Moluccan Pitta; Morotai Pitta

Pitta maxima

Includes Morotai Pitta


25 - 28cm. The largest pitta.

  • head, upperparts and tail glossy black
  • chin and throat black
  • rest of underparts ivory-white with a large red patch on central lower breast, belly and undertail-coverts
  • upperwing-coverts shining blue and green
  • wings black with white band on primaries (broader in morotaiensis)
  • inner flight-feathers edged green
  • bill black
  • feet pale flesh-coloured

Sexes similar. Juveniles are duller without gloss and less bright on underparts


Only found on Halmahera, Kasiruta, Bacan and Morotai, possibly also on Mandioli and Obi in the Northern Moluccas, Indonesia.
A restricted-range species, still common in some parts of its range.


Photo by Mark Harper
Foli, Halmahera, Sept., 2016

Two subspecies recognized[1],[4]. Ssp morotaiensis is elevated to species status ("Morotai Pitta") by some authorities.

  • P. m. maxima on Halmahera, Bacan, Kasiruta and possibly Obi and Mandioli
  • P. m. morotaiensis: "Morotai Pitta". Morotai Island


Lowland forest. Also in second growth, often in limestone and karst areas, sometimes in overgrown coconut plantations. Found up to 650m on Halmahera, 500m on Kasiruta and up to 800m on Morotai.


Feeds probably on earthworms, caterpillars and snails but no documented information.
Breeding season probably year-round. The nest is a dome made of sticks, dead and skeletonized leaves and fine roots. It's placed on the ground between buttress roots of a large tree. Clutch size not known.
A sedentary species.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2003. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed., with updates to October 2008 (Corrigenda 8). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691117010
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2010. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.7). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334504

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