Lee Richardson Zoo

Bleeding Heart Dove

AKA Luzon Bleeding-heart

Order: Columbiformes - pigeons and doves

Family: Columbidae - pigeons and doves

Scientific Name:  Gallicolumba luzonica


DescriptionThe bleeding heart pigeon is easily recognized by a large, dark red patch of feathers on the breast that resembles an open wound.  There are five species of bleeding heart pigeons, each with a red patch of a different size or intensity.  The Luzon bleeding-heart has the most realistic “wound” of the group.  Its upper-parts are variable shades of gray with purple iridescence, while the throat, breast, and under-parts are white.  There are several dark chestnut-brown bars on the wings.  The beak is black, and the legs and feet are dull purple-red.  Males and females look alike except for the eyes – males have a blue iris, and females have a purple or purple-gray iris.  Juveniles are chocolate-brown, with buff bars on the wings and a very faint reddish patch on the breast.  Bleeding heart pigeons are shaped like other pigeons, with small head, short tail, and short beak.  Their legs are longer than those of most other pigeons. They are 10-12 inches long.


Home Range: Northern Philippines (Luzon and Polillo Islands)


Habitat Type:  Primary and secondary forest


Reproduction:  Little is known about the reproduction of bleeding heart pigeons in the wild.  In captivity, the male begins courtship by cooing at his partner, puffing out his chest to show off his blood-red patch to full advantage, and then bowing his head.  They are thought to build flimsy stick nests like those of other pigeons, but one captive pair also used large green leaves to build their nest.  In the wild, the nest is placed in a low bush.  They lay 2 creamy-white eggs per clutch, and incubate for 15-17 days.  Both sexes incubate, usually switching places only twice a day.  The chicks hatch with a thin layer of down and eyes sealed shut.  They can make quiet peeping sounds, but they are usually silent.  For the first few days, the chicks eat only crop-milk, a nutritious, high-protein food produced in the crops of both parents.  The chicks fledge after 12 days.


Diet in the Wild:  Seeds, fallen berries, insects, worms, and other invertebrates on the forest floor


Diet in the Zoo:  Softbill diet, chopped fruits and vegetables, exotic game bird maintenance, scratch grain, mealworms


General Information:  In the wild, bleeding heart pigeons are shy and difficult to approach.  Little is known about their lives in the wild.  They spend most of their time on the ground.  When threatened, they usually fly a short distance, and then continue on foot.  They roost in shrubs or low trees.  The call is usually a single cooooo, with the pitch rising slightly in the middle of the call.


Conservation Status:  This species has a restricted range and is considered near-threatened.  Listed on CITES Appendix II.


PredatorsNative mammals, reptiles, and birds of prey.  They are trapped by local people for meat and for sale in the pet trade.



Encyclopedia of Aviculture, Vol. 1.  1979.  A. Rutgers and K.A. Norris.  Blandfor Press, Poole.  pp. 330-331.


Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 4.  1997.  J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal.  Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.  pp. 60-111, 179.