Latest news:

Bleeding-heart dove

Scientific name: Gallicolumba luzonica and criniger

Country: Philippines

Continent: Asia

Diet: Fruits - frugivore, seeds - granivore, insects - insectivore

Food & feeding: Omnivore

Habitats: Tropical rainforest

Conservation status: The Luzon bleeding heart dove is near threatened. The Mindanao bleeding heart dove is vulnerable.

Relatives: Imperial pigeon, turtle dove, dodo

Description: The name 'bleeding-heart' comes from the patch of red on the breast of these birds. Otherwise they are grey above and paler buff below. Bleeding-heart doves live only in the Philippines. Many thousands of years ago there would have been just one species but rising seas levels isolated several populations, each on a different island group. These isolated populations evolved gradually into five separate species, all of which live in forested areas. Two of the five species live on moderately large islands and have evolved further into separate sub-species, divided by different environmental conditions.

Lifestyle: The scientific name gives us a good idea: Galli means chicken and columba means dove. This is a dove that spends much of its time as a chicken does, on the ground among the dead leaves, looking for food. Generally they live in dense forest.

Family & friends: Bleeding-heart doves spend most of the time in a flock that moves through their forest environment on the look-out for food.

Keeping in touch: Like other doves and pigeons, these birds stay in touch with other flock members by a series of coos. Males also woo females using a series of coos.

Growing up: The Luzon bleeding heart dove lays two eggs, which hatch after about fourteen days. Like other pigeons and doves, for the first few days the chicks are fed a rich milky fluid that the adult bird produces in its crop (the first part of the digestive system). Then, after a few days the chicks graduate to solid food such as fruits and seeds.

Pigeons and doves drink in a different way to other birds: they submerge their beak in water, suck the water up and swallow, without the need to raise the head between sips.

Conservation news: Habitat conservation is a priority but it will also be necessary to bring some of the three other species of bleeding heart doves (Negros, Sulu and Mindoro) into captivity, to prevent their extinction. Recently the first captive population of Negros bleeding heart doves has been established in the Philippines.

Only two of the five species of bleeding heart doves are held in captivity in Europe at present: the Luzon and the Mindanao. The European breeding programmes for these species are coordinated by Bristol Zoo Gardens. They are being managed to provide a self-sustaining captive population and to develop important care and breeding techniques for use in the Philippines.

Identifying the areas where Negros bleeding heart doves are found and the numbers that are left is the next step needed to secure this species in the wild. Once sites have been selected with the local community, the area will be protected to ensure the survival of the species in that area.

The areas where the bleeding heart dove lives also contain many other birds unique to these islands, all of which have been threatened by deforestation. In addition, some are threatened by hunting and illegal collection for the pet trade. By highlighting the plight of the bleeding heart dove, conservationists work to save the habitat for all the species in the area.