Avizandum Birdkeeping Magazine on Magnificent Crowned Pigeons
Crowned Pigeons are all native to New Guinea. They are large birds with a most remarkable dark greyish-blue and purple colour and lacy crest feathers – something which always makes them a main attraction to visitors at zoos. They are all more or less 680-740mm long, weigh 2,5-3,2kg and sexes are identical.
The Blue-crowned Pigeon (Goura cristata) from N.W. New Guinea, the Sclater’s Crowned Pigeon (Goura scheepmakeri) from S.E. New Guinea and the G.s. sclateri from S. New Guinea do not have white tips on their crest feathers. They all differ slightly in their sizes, shades of grey and blue and the amount and areas of chestnut, white and grey. The pigeon pictured here is most likely the Goura scheepmakeri with pure white wing patches and no white on its crest. The Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria victoria ) is found in the Japen/Jobi islands and is slightly smaller and darker in colour than G.v. beccarii, which is the larger, stronger subspecies with a wider crest.
Their crests are particularly striking because of the white tips.
The Indian Mahajaras are believed to have been the first to keep Crowned Pigeons in captivity, and, apparently, these birds were successfully kept together with the common poultry. Hunting and shooting for sport has unfortunately led to a decrease in their numbers so that they are protected, although not in all areas.
These pigeons are not difficult to keep and maintain in aviaries. Their habitat is forested areas where they feed on seeds, fruits and insects. In captivity they are opportunistic feeders, quite happy with a selection of the following: insectivore and pheasant pellets, peanuts, whole corn, softbill mixes, mixed diced fruit, greens, diced carrot, figs (eg Ficus macro-phylla) and mealworms. Place their feed dishes on the ground.
Pigeons like to nest in baskets or wire trays that are hung high up in the aviary. As nesting material pine needles, palms, twigs and leaves can be offered. They build their nest inside the basket or wire tray. Their breeding season is from January to September. The courtship and nest building ceremonies are a delight to behold. Their deep, melodious call sounds like a beautiful jungle drum. One white egg is laid and incubated by the hen at night and the cock during the day for 30 days. The chick weighs 40g at hatching and grows at an amazing rate, reaching a mass of 600-700g in 40 days. After 13 weeks they can feed themselves. Those who have handreared pigeons can get them to eat by themselves at 8 weeks old.
One breeder keeps one pair of Crowned Pigeons per large aviary, as they are less distracted, healthier and breed better for him. He has found them to be aggressive towards medium sized pigeons, but other breeders keep more than one pair in a single enclosure. As long as the accommodation is spacious enough for them not to interact negatively, it seems to work well enough. Another source claims them to be compatible with many other bird species like pheasants, softbills, parrots and other dove and pigeon species. As long as there is sufficient plant cover, other ground dwelling species need not be in any danger, as these birds are generally not classed as aggressive. They spend most of their days on the ground and then roost high up in trees at night. Their wings should not be clipped, but keepers are asked to be aware of their inclination to strike with their wings – a rather unpleasant experience. Coming from a mild climate, these pigeons must not be exposed to cold, especially not frost.
References: Morris, Chris Ph.D, Those Magnificent Crowned Pigeons of New Guinea, “Game Bird and Conservationists’ Gazette”, Utah, USA, June 1998, p.4
Delacour, Dr. Jean, Wild Pigeons and Doves, t.f.h., 1980
Brown, Danny, A guide to Pigeons, Doves and Quail, Australina Birdkeeper, 1995
Source by James Wilmans