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Great Cuckoo-Dove - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 22:41, 27 October 2017 by Deliatodd-18346 (talk | contribs) (→‎Identification: Amend link)
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Photo by Rob Hutchinson
Seram, Indonesia, September 2006
Reinwardtoena reinwardti


47.5-52.5 cm, 18.7-20.7 inches. 208–305 g
This is an impressive large cuckoo-dove

  • Light blue head, neck and underparts
  • White throat
  • Very long tail
  • Head, neck, breast and underparts are pale blue grey
  • Darker on sides and undertail coverts
  • White throat
  • Breast often with pink wash and edged pinky cream or white
  • Mantle, back, rump, uppertail coverts and central rectrices deep reddish brown
  • Wing coverts and scapulars dark reddish brown
  • Primaries, secondaries with their respective coverts black
  • Outer pair of rectrices grey white outer webs with black subterminal bands
  • Inner webs have wide black bands with grey tips
  • Next pair in are black based with grey centres and black and reddish brown subterminal band
Subspecies R.r. griseotincta
Photo by Mehd Halaouate
Yapen, Papua, March 2005
  • Next pair tipped with wide reddish brown bands, the amount of reddish brown increasing gradually
  • Only a small amount of grey and black at the base
  • Underwing black
  • Iris pale yellow or pink with red outer ring
  • Orbital skin dark pink to wine red
  • Beak with brown, sometimes white tip. Base and cere red to cerise
  • Legs and feet red, reddish purple or cerise


  • May have orbital skin duller or more chestnut
  • Iris more yellow


  • Dull browny grey
  • Darker on wings
  • Offwhite throat
  • Rump and uppertail coverts chestnut with dark edges
  • Central rectrices blackish brown with reddish brown wash
  • A few mantle and wing feathers have reddish brown edges


  • Down on newly hatched chicks is pinkish white
  • Fully grown chicks have black beaks and legs

Similar Species

Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove which usually has wine red wash to underparts, barred darker with less contrast to duller upperparts.


Found throughout New Guinea, the islands of the Geelvink bay, West Papuan islands, the Moluccas, Karkar island and D'Entrecasteaux islands



Three subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • R.r. reinwardti Clinal differences to colour tone, darkest birds in north and lightest in the southwest. Immature birds have grey and brown wash.
  • R.r. griseotincta wing of male 254 mm, larger than nominate (238 mm), darker under tail coverts, white only on forehead, throat and face, lustrous grey breast.
  • R.r. brevis smaller, with wing only 210 mm, paler than other races, with complete head and underparts white, in strong contrasti to dark reddish brown upperparts.


Found in canopy and middle level primary forest, forest edge, secondary growth and gallery forest, on Biak I. Up to tree line at 3380 m on mainland and to 1190 m on Karkar I. Mainly between 800–1400 m in Moluccas. lowland birds seen mainly near hills.


One of the most elegant flyers in the dove world but getting a flight shot is far from easy. Mostly solitary, but may be in pairs or groups of up to ten, and eating fruit with other frugivores.


Their diet consists mainly of seeds and fruit. Feeds on the ground at regular intervals. Pebbles have been found in the stomachs of some birds. Prefers the fruit of Schefflera and other Araliaceae. Records show feeding on Schefflera chaetorrhachis and some Osmoxylum in Papua New Guinea.


Breed all year round on New Guinea, with peak period from October to November. Nests and young bird have been found between March and August and October and December. Birds in breeding condition have been seen at other times. A chick was found on Buru in February. Undulating display flight, sweeping up steeply initially, with spread wings and tail, or wings clapping, followed by a steep downward glide. Also displays in similar fashion to Macropygia. Nest is a flat or slightly bowl-shaped structure of sticks (20 cm × 80 cm), also with roots, ferns and moss, lined with softer plants Normally betwwen 1.2 and 5 m above the ground in a tree or bush, one at about 12 m in Pandanus. Sometimes nests on ledges between 2.4 and 12 m above ground in river gorges and caves. One white egg. Incubation thought to be by both parents.


Most common call is a “cookuwook cookuwook cookuwook...” , slower than that of Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove with about 1 phrase/s and more trisyllabic, frequently repeated over long periods. Also a series of about 12 descending “hoo” notes which speed up towards end.


Their big sizes make them a favourite hunting target as a food source and that's the cause of their number being reduced dramatically in the last 10 years both in Biak and Yapen islands in the Geelvink bay.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2015)

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