Luzon Bleeding-Heart: A Dove That Looks Shot Through the Heart

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The Luzon bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) is a very shy and secretive species of dove endemic to the island of Luzon in Philippines. The bird got its unusual name from a splash of vivid red on their white breasts which resembles a bleeding wound. The reddish hue extends down the belly furthering the illusion of blood having run down the bird's front. The red patch is slightly brighter in males. When courting, the male inflates his breast to emphasize the red spot.

Short tailed and long legged, these exclusively terrestrial birds have light blue-gray wings and heads with blackish bills, but because their feathers are iridescent, it can appear to be purple, royal blue, or bottle-green, and the apparent color varies with lighting conditions. The wing coverts are marked with three dark red-brown bands. Their throat, breast and under parts are white, and lighter pink feathers surround the red patch on the breast. The male and female Luzon bleeding-hearts are very similar in appearance and hard to tell apart.


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The Luzon bleeding-heart dove spends most of the time on the forest floor foraging for seeds, fallen fruits and small insects among the leaf litter. It leaves the ground and flies to trees only for resting and sleeping. The nest is built on low trees or in bushes and creeping plants, not very far from the ground.

The Luzon bleeding-heart is a very shy bird and difficult to observe in their natural habitat. They are found in three islands in the northern Philippines, including Luzon, where there are many isolated populations, and in the island of Polillo, where a very small population has recently been rediscovered.

Sadly, the bird is undergoing a moderate decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, caused by deforestation for timber and the expansion of agriculture. Additionally, the bird is vulnerable to hunting and is often trapped by the locals to use as pet.


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Sources: / / Melbourne Museum / Encyclopedia of Life

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