Gallicolumba luzonica is endemic to the central and southern regions of Luzon and the smaller offshore island Polillo. These islands are located in the northern region of the Philippine Archipelago, one of the largest island groups in the world. Luzon is heavily populated and has a mountainous region in the north. The climate varies greatly with a wet season occuring from June to October and a dry season from November to May.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
Gallicolumba luzonica has a characteristic dark red patch on its breast that looks like a bleeding wound. Short tailed and long legged; these exclusively terrestrial birds have light blue-gray wings and heads with blackish bills. The wing coverts are marked with three dark red-brown bands. Their throat, breast and under parts are white, lighter pink feathers surround the red patch on the breast. Their legs and feet are red. These birds are not sexually dimorphic and the sexes are difficult to tell apart. Some males do appear slightly larger with a broader head, but most birds need to be sexed surgically to achieve reliable results.
Gallicolumba luzonica weighs 184 g, on average and is 30 cm long. The average wingspan is 38 cm.
Average mass: 184 g.
Average length: 30 cm.
Average wingspan: 38 cm.
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Gallicolumba luzonica inhabits lowland forest and spends the majority of its time on the forest floor feeding. These birds roost and nest in low to medium height trees, shrubbery and vines. They use the thick surrounding undergrowth to escape from predators. They can be found from sea level to elevations of 1400 m.
Range elevation: 0 to 1400 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Habitat and Ecology
In their natural habitat, these terrestrial birds feed primarily on seeds, fallen berries and a variety of insects and worms found on the forest floor. In captivity, the birds may be fed oilseeds, vegetables and cheese for added nutrients when a pair is breeding.
Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial worms
Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Primary Diet: omnivore
Many plant species depend on G. luzonica for seed dispersal. In captivity, these birds are hosts to parasites (Trichomonas) and develop cankers that cause illness and death if left untreated.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
Predators include native mammals (class Mammalia), reptiles (class Reptilia) and birds of prey (order Falconiformes). Gallicolumba luzonica uses the thick surrounding undergrowth to escape from predators.
- native mammals (Mammalia)
- reptiles (Reptilia)
- birds of prey (Falconiformes)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
The calls of G. luzonica are a single coooooo, raising in pitch only slightly in the middle of the call. Typically these birds are incredibly secretive and nearly silent. Males use a soft co-co-cooooo during courtship to attract females. Males also attract females with courtship displays. The male chases the female displaying an inflated breast to fully show his vivid blood markings or "heart".
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Gallicolumba luzonica has a very long lifespan, usually living 15 years in the wild. In captivity, these birds will often live well into their twenties.
Status: captivity: 25 years.
Status: wild: 15 years.
In captivity these birds are monogamous and maintain a strong bond, usually pairing for life. During breeding, males attract females with courtship displays. The male chases the female displaying an inflated breast to fully show his vivid blood markings or "heart". Once the female is smitten, the male bows his head and coos lovingly to his intended mate.
Mating System: monogamous
It has proven difficult to observe these shy birds in their natural habitat, hence little is known about their reproductive behaviors outside of captivity. It is presumed that nesting most likely occurs during mid-May when other subspecies of the same genus nest on nearby Philippine islands. In captivity, breeding pairs can mate year-round. Females lay 2 creamy white eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for 15 to 17 days; the cock sits on the eggs during the day and the hen sits on them at night. Although the young leave the nest after 10 to 14 days, parents continue to feed the fledglings for up to one month. At 2 to 3 months the young begin to develop adult plumage and must be separated from the parents. If this does not occur, parents will attack and sometimes kill their young. At 18 months, the juveniles go through a second molt and become sexually mature.
Breeding season: Nesting is most likely to ocuur during mid-May when other subspecies of same genus nest in the Philippines.
Average eggs per season: 2.
Range time to hatching: 17 to 15 days.
Range fledging age: 14 to 10 days.
Average time to independence: 3 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Parents go to great lengths to be good caregivers to their altricial young. Incubation usually takes 15 to 17 days; both parents are responsible for this task, usually switching places only twice each day. The chicks are fed "crop milk". This substance is very close in consistency and chemical make-up to mammal milk. Both parents regurgitate this nutrious, high protein substance that is produced in the lining of their crop. Although the chicks leave the nest after 10 to 14 days, parents stay close to their offspring for 2 to 3 months.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallicolumba luzonica
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
Although there is no immediate risk of extinction, G. luzonica is considered "near threatened" and was recognized by CITES, Appendix II in 1975. Since that time the natural habitiat of G. luzonica has been reduced and there have been further decreases in their population. The Philippine Red Data Book also lists the species as "near threatened" and therefore considers it a national conservation priority. Although no major conservation or reintroduction projects are underway, G. luzonica can be found in zoos around the world.
The native people in Luzon pose a great threat to this species by trapping the tame birds for meat and for sale in the pet trade. In recent years a lot of land was damaged with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Increases in population sizes of cities and deforestation greatly impact this endemic bird.
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
CITES Appendix II. Captive populations in Europe and North America are formally managed (Webster and Michael in litt. 2009). The number in captivity in North America has remained around 75 since 1988. A Population Management Plan was developed in 2009 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums with the aim of reaching 100 birds in the North American zoo population. In-situ conservation efforts are also reported to be underway (Webster and Michael in litt. 2009).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to assess population size using playback. Regularly monitor to determine population trends. Investigate the extent of hunting by local residents. Control hunting where possible, perhaps using awareness campaigns. Protect significant areas of intact forest throughout its range. Attempt to rediscover the population on Catanduanes.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse affects of G. luzonica on humans.
These birds play an important role in biodiversity and local ecology. The islands of Luzon and Polillo are home to many rare, endemic species and one of the top five bodiversity hotspots in the world. These habitats include watersheds that protect against soil erosion and landslides. The birds help ensure the success of these forests through seed dispersal. Gallicolumba luzonica and their habitat are key to ecotourism and sustaining the island's biodiversity. These birds are also hunted for food and the pet trade.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; ecotourism
The Luzon bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) is one of a number of species of ground dove in the genus Gallicolumba that are called "bleeding-hearts". They get this name from a splash of vivid red colour at the centre of their white breasts. The Luzon Bleeding-heart is the species in which this feature is most pronounced, and on first sight it is hard to believe that the bird has not recently been wounded. A reddish hue that extends down the belly furthers the illusion of blood having run down the bird's front.
On its upper surfaces, the Luzon bleeding-heart is slate grey in colour, but because it is iridescent, it can appear to be purple, royal blue, or bottle-green, and the apparent colour varies with lighting conditions. The belly and under wing areas are buff or chestnut. As in most pigeons, there is little sexual dimorphism; males tend to be larger and have a more pronounced red patch, and some authorities claim that the female has a purplish iris, though others dispute this. Body shape is typical of the genus, with a round body, a short tail and long legs.
The species is endemic to the island of Luzon, Philippines. Three subspecies are known. Gallicolumba luzonica luzonica is found on the central and southern parts of the large island of Luzon, and the neighbouring small Polillo Islands. The subspecies of Gallicolumba luzonica griseolateralis is found on the Northern part of Luzon while Gallicolumba luzonica rubiventris is found exclusively on Catanduanes Island. Gallicolumba luzonica rubiventris or known as Catanduanes bleeding-heart has only single collected specimen in 1971; this subspecies is very rare as it is believed to be near extinction or already extinct.
It lives in primary or secondary forest, and can be found at altitudes varying from sea level up to 1400 metres. They eat seeds, berries and grubs. They are shy and secretive, and very quiet, and rarely leave the ground except when nesting. Unlike the other bleeding-hearts, they usually lay two eggs in each clutch.
Although not formally regarded as endangered, the Luzon bleeding-heart is under some threat, since it is commonly trapped. Local people use it for meat, but its striking appearance means that there is also a market for it in the pet trade. A captive breeding project has been started in Australia.
The Luzon bleeding-heart was featured on a Philippine 2-peso postage stamp in 1994.
In popular culture
Hatoful Boyfriend, a visual novel/dating sim in which all of the characters except the player are birds, notably features a Luzon bleeding-heart character named Anghel. This character is initially the subject of much concern, as characters who are unfamiliar with Luzon plumage fear that he has a gaping chest wound.
Luzon Bleeding Heart is also the name of a Rock band from Leicestershire, England.
The Bleeding Heart Pigeon was also the inspiration for the name of a SE Asia based publishing firm. www.bleedingheartpublications.com
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