Bird O'clock

10 Surprising Facts About the Bronzed Ground Dove

The Bronze Ground Dove is a fascinating bird that belongs to the dove family. It is scientifically known as Alopecoenas beccarii and is commonly found in the bird’s endemic region of New Guinea.

Above all else, this bird’s interesting physical features, unique characteristics, and tendencies make it worthy of study in detail.


Identifying the Bronze Ground Dove is relatively easy, especially if you know what to look out for. To help differentiate this bird from others, here are some points to note:

– Field

Identification: The Bronze Ground Dove is a small bird that measures about 18cm long and weighs about 46g.

It has brown and purple iridescent plumage with a grey throat and chest. The bird has dark brown wings with a white patch on its tail and a distinct pale blue-grey ring around its eye.

– Similar Species: The Bronze Ground Dove has very similar physical characteristics to the Black-billed Ground Dove (Alopecoenas melanogenys). However, the former has a grey belly, while the latter has a yellowish belly.


The Bronze Ground Dove has two distinct plumages, which are usually determined by their age, season, and breeding status. – Adult Plumage: The adult plumage of the Bronze Ground Dove is predominantly brown with a purple-blue iridescence on its wings.

They have a grey throat and chest and a white-tipped tail. Typically, they have a distinct pale blue-grey ring around their eye.

– Juvenile Plumage: The young Bronze Ground Dove looks much like the adult but with a paler, muted feather coloring.


The Bronze Ground Dove undergoes an annual complete molt, where it sheds its feathers and regrows new ones. During this time, the bird looks different and can be easily distinguished from others.

The molt occurs towards the start of the breeding season, and the bird takes on a new plumage, making it a great time to observe one.


The Bronze Ground Dove is a unique and interesting bird species that continues to fascinate bird watchers across the world. With its striking iridescent plumage, the bird stands out distinctly in its endemic region of New Guinea, where it can be found in tropical forests, gardens, and scrublands.

By understanding its identification, different plumages, and molting process, we can appreciate the Bronze Ground Dove and its role in the ecosystem.

Systematics History

Before the Bronze Ground Dove (Alopecoenas beccarii) was formally described by ornithologists, early naturalists had already encountered the bird in the forested regions of New Guinea. However, the taxonomy of the Alopecoenas genus was highly debated due to the similarities in physical characteristics between species.

Eventually, the Bronze Ground Dove was described, named after Odoardo Beccari, an Italian naturalist who first observed the bird in Papua New Guinea.

Geographic Variation

The Bronze Ground Dove is found in diverse regions from the lowland forests to the high montane regions of New Guinea. However, there exists considerable geographic variation in this species.

The doves recorded in the eastern part of New Guinea have a different plumage color compared to those in the west.


There are currently three recognized subspecies of the Bronze Ground Dove. A.

beccarii beccarii: This is the nominate subspecies found in mainland New Guinea. A.

beccarii affinis: The subspecies is found in the Yapen Islands, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. A.

beccarii buergersi: This subspecies occurs in the Salawati island group, off the coast of West Papua.

Related Species

The Bronze Ground Dove belongs to the Alopecoenas genus, which comprises of over a dozen species of ground doves that are distributed across the Pacific Islands. The genus has a shared ancestry and a similar morphology, but individuals vary in geographical features and the depth of their plumage color.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Though little is known about the historical distribution of the Bronze Ground Dove, the species was thought to have remained confined to the forests of New Guinea until the 1990s. However, reports from the field suggest that the bird is now found in areas where it was not previously observed.

This expansion is likely due to the increased reporting of data and exploration of less-visited regions of New Guinea. The Bronze Ground Doves distribution has also been impacted by deforestation and forest fires, particularly in the lowland regions that the bird inhabits.

Anthropogenic activities have caused a significant reduction in its habitat, putting the bird species at risk of extinction. Conservation efforts have been ongoing to monitor the species’ distribution and to create protected reserves to help halt the destruction of its habitat.

These programs have proven effective in increasing the bird’s numbers, but they require more funds and resources to ensure their long-term success.


Through the study of systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and historical changes to distribution, we can better understand the Bronze Ground Dove. The bird’s relationship with other ground doves in the Alopecoenas genus strengthens the understanding of their evolution and development.

Furthermore, as the bird continues to face existential threats from deforestation and climate change, more efforts must be taken towards understanding and conservation to ensure the survival of this beautiful bird.


The Bronze Ground Dove is primarily found in New Guinea, where it occupies a range of forested habitats, including primary and secondary tropical forests, savannas, and scrublands. This bird species prefers lowland forests, particularly areas that are dense in undergrowth.

They also inhabit the interior mountain forests of New Guinea, which can be up to 3,000 meters above sea level.

Movements and Migration

The Bronze Ground Dove is primarily a sedentary species that does not migrate. It is possible that some birds may make movements between different forest stands within the same area, though there is limited data on this behavior.

During the breeding season, males are territorial, and they will defend an area of their preferred habitat to attract females. After mating, the birds usually form pair bonds, which can last for several years.

During the non-breeding season, they seek areas with greater food availability or follow fruiting trees in search of berries. The Bronze Ground Dove does not undertake long-distance migration, but it may move within its range for short distances in search of better conditions or breeding locations.

Furthermore, there have been some reports of the Bronze Ground Dove dispersing outside its natural range, but whether these can be considered migration is debatable. The movement of the Bronze Ground Dove is influenced by factors such as food availability, breeding, climatic conditions, and human activities, among others.

The timing and frequency of these movements may also vary depending on sex and age. For instance, younger birds may be more prone to wander than older birds.

Threats and Conservation

The Bronze Ground Dove is threatened by loss of habitat through deforestation, human development, and forest fragmentation. Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to the species, with large areas of the bird’s habitat destroyed for logging, mining, agriculture, and urbanization.

The bird’s sedentary and territorial nature make it particularly vulnerable to habitat loss, as it is not well adapted to surviving outside its preferred environment. This loss of habitat is also associated with a decline in food availability, which can also affect the bird’s breeding success.

Although the Bronze Ground Dove is not currently listed as critically endangered, it is still considered vulnerable to extinction. This status emphasizes the need for conservation initiatives to protect and preserve the bird’s habitat and populations.

Conservation efforts should include habitat restoration, protection of remaining habitats, increasing public awareness, and monitoring of the bird’s distribution and population.


The Bronze Ground Dove plays an important ecological role as a primary seed disperser and insect eater in its habitat. However, this bird’s habitat has been subject to considerable pressure from a range of human activities, threatening its long-term survival.

Understanding the movements and migration of the species, as well as the factors that influence its distribution and population, is crucial for developing effective conservation strategies. By protecting the bird’s habitat, we can ensure that this beautiful species continues to thrive in the forests of New Guinea.

Diet and Foraging


The Bronze Ground Dove is a ground-dwelling bird that feeds on insects, seeds, and fruits. They forage on the ground, often in pairs or small groups, scratching in the leaf litter and debris to uncover insects and other invertebrates.

The bird’s foraging behavior is highly territorial, and during the breeding season, the males defend small feeding territories, where they display to attract females. The doves use their beaks to pick up seeds and fruits, which they consume whole or break open by pecking them against hard surfaces like rocks.


The Bronze Ground Dove is an omnivorous bird that feeds on a wide range of food items. The bird’s diet largely depends on the availability of food within their preferred habitat.

During periods when insects are abundant, such as after rainfall, the bird prefers to feed on these invertebrates. When fruiting trees and shrubs are abundant, the bird relies more heavily on these food sources, particularly during the non-breeding season.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Bronze Ground Dove has unique physiological adaptations that enable it to regulate its body temperature in the hot and humid tropical environments where it lives. The bird has a high metabolic rate, which allows it to maintain a consistent body temperature despite extreme fluctuations in ambient temperature.

The bird’s breathing rates increase when metabolic activity increases, allowing heat to be dissipated from the body through panting. The bird also regulates its body temperature by adjusting its behavior, moving to areas with shade when temperatures become too high, and increasing activity levels in the mornings and evenings when temperatures are cooler.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Bronze Ground Dove is not a particularly vocal bird, but it does produce a range of calls to communicate with other members of its species. These vocalizations have been described as being soft, low-pitched coos that last for about half a second.

The bird produces a series of coos, generally consisting of two or three notes per phrase. The male’s vocalizations are often heard during courtship as he tries to attract a mate.

The female of the species may also emit a soft hooting call during courtship, which is thought to encourage the male to continue displaying. The Bronze Ground Dove is not known to produce alarm calls or other vocalizations to indicate danger or stress.

Instead, they utilize behavioral responses to avoid potential threats, such as taking flight or hiding in the underbrush.


Understanding the Bronze Ground Dove’s feeding habits, diet, and thermoregulatory adaptations provides insights into its ecological role and traits that have allowed the species to thrive in its natural environment. In addition, knowledge of the bird’s vocalizations and behavioral responses to threats can inform conservationists as they work towards the protection and preservation of this vulnerable species.

By focusing on holistic conservation efforts that encompass habitat preservation, public awareness, and targeted monitoring of the bird populations, the Bronze Ground Dove can continue to thrive in the lush forests of New Guinea.



The Bronze Ground Dove is primarily a ground-dwelling bird that moves by walking or running with quick, pattering steps, which helps them navigate through the leaf litter. They also can fly, but they are not particularly strong fliers and only use it as a means of escaping danger, moving to different foraging areas, or mating.


Bronze Ground Doves are known to preen themselves regularly, using their beak to clean and maintain their feathers. The bird typically spends time after feeding and before roosting, during which they fluff up their feathers and preen themselves.

Preening helps to maintain feather condition, removing parasites and maintaining a streamlined body shape to improve flight.

Agonistic Behavior

The Bronze Ground Dove can exhibit agonistic behavior within its population. During periods of low food availability, males are known to become highly territorial and are often seen fighting off other males that venture too close to their territory.

They can become aggressive and engage in physical combat, using their wings and beaks.

Sexual Behavior

The Bronze Ground Dove is monogamous, with pairs bonding with one another for the breeding season – and possibly for life in some instances. During courtship, males display to females, fluffing up their feathers and making soft, low-pitched coos, while displaying their tail feathers.

The female selects the male based on the strength and quality of the display.


The breeding season of the Bronze Ground Dove occurs in the drier months of New Guinea’s year when food becomes more plentiful. During the breeding season, males defend small territories within their habitat, where they display to attract females.

Nest construction is usually the responsibility of the female, using twigs and materials that can be found in the vicinity of their preferred habitat. The birds construct well-concealed nests in the underbrush on the ground, and they lay a pair of white eggs, which they incubate for approximately 14 days.

The young birds are fed by both parents, who take it in turns to forage and return to feed them.

Demography and Populations

The population density of Bronze Ground Dove in different regions of New Guinea is poorly understood, primarily due to the species’ solitary and timid behavior. Although not yet listed as critically endangered, the population of Bronze Ground Dove has reduced significantly due to deforestation, overhunting, habitat degradation, and climate change.

Conservation initiatives have been implemented to restore their habitat and preserve their population, but these have been hindered by insufficient funding. The exact demography of the Bronze Ground Dove is not known, but it is believed to have a low reproductive rate, producing only one or two offspring per year.

The bird’s long-term survival will depend on increased conservation efforts to reduce habitat destruction and raise public awareness, particularly with the communities that share their habitat.


The Bronze Ground Dove’s behavior is fascinating, and understanding it provides insights into the bird’s biology and evolution. The bird’s breeding habits, sexual behavior, and nesting constructs are highly specialized for their habitat, and these adaptations make it a unique species within the bird kingdom.

Although conservation efforts have improved in recent years, it is essential to continue investing resources and data to protect its habitat and populations. By maintaining a holistic approach to conservation efforts, the long-term survival of this vulnerable species will be secured, and it can continue to thrive in the forests of New Guinea.

In conclusion, understanding the Bronze Ground Dove’s distinctive physical features, geographical variation, plumages, molting process, habitat, movements, diet, vocalization, behavior, breeding, and demographic trends provides essential insights into this beautiful bird’s evolution, behavior, and ecology. These insights are crucial to preserving and conserving the species, which is threatened by human activities such as deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change.

Through concerted conservation efforts, we can protect the Bronze Ground Dove’s habitat, populations, and future survival while simultaneously benefiting other species that share its habitat. By understanding and safeguarding the Bronze Ground Dove, we not only ensure the survival of a unique avian species but also preserve the fragile biodiversity present in the New Guinean forests.

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