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5 Fascinating Behaviors of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove: From Locomotion to Breeding and More!

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, also known as Macropygia doreya, is a large bird species belonging to the family Columbidae. This elegant and beautiful bird is known for its unique features, and in this article, we will discuss the various aspects of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, including its identification, field identification, plumages, and molts.


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is a large bird, measuring approximately 43-50 cm in length. This bird weighs between 682-850 grams and has a wingspan of 75-90 cm.

The male and female of this species look identical, with no observable differences in their size, color, or plumage. Field


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a unique appearance that makes it easily identifiable.

This bird has a brownish-grey head with a blackish-grey facial mask and a white throat. Its neck and breast are violet-grey, while its back, wings, and tail are brownish-purple.

The bird’s belly is a lighter shade of violet-grey, and its legs are reddish-pink.

Similar Species

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove can be easily confused with the Dwarf Fruit Dove, which is smaller in size and has a less robust appearance than the former. The two species are similar in terms of color, but the Dwarf Fruit Dove has a grey crown and lacks the black facial mask.


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a unique set of plumages that it changes throughout its life. Hatchlings have a set of light grey down feathers, which they lose as they develop their feathers.

Juvenile birds have a duller plumage than the adults, with a brownish tinge on their back and wings. Adult birds have a vibrant and colorful plumage, with a violet-grey chest and a brownish-purple back, wings, and tail.

The bird’s underparts are violet-grey, and it has a white throat, a blackish-grey facial mask, and a reddish-pink bill. The bird’s eye is yellow, and it has reddish-pink legs.


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove undergoes two molts in a year – the breeding molt in May to June and the post-breeding molt in August to September. During the breeding molt, the bird sheds its feathers and grows a new plumage to attract a mate and reproduce.

During the post-breeding molt, the bird sheds its old feathers and grows a new set to prepare for winter and upcoming breeding season. In summary, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is a unique and beautiful bird species with a wide range of identification features, including its plumages and molts.

It is easy to spot in the wild due to its vibrant and colorful appearance, and it is often mistaken for the Dwarf Fruit Dove. This bird is an essential member of the Columbidae family and plays a vital role in the ecosystem.

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, also known scientifically as Macropygia doreya, is a bird species that belongs to the family of Columbidae. This bird species has a rich history in terms of its distribution, systematics, and taxonomy.

In this article, we will delve into the history of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, its geographic variation, its subspecies, and related species. Additionally, we will look into the historical changes to its distribution.

Systematics History

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove was first described scientifically by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1855. The bird was initially classified under the genus Osmotreron, which is a typical pigeon or fruit dove.

However, in 1864, George Robert Gray of the British Museum moved the species to the genus Macropygia, a genus for larger cuckoo-doves.

Geographic Variation

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a broad distribution range, covering various islands in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. This bird species exhibits geographic variation, with variations in the color and size of individuals in different regions.

The subspecies present in different regions are distinct in terms of their size, coloration, and voice.


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has several subspecies that are distributed across its range, each with distinct morphological features. The subspecies commonly recognized include:


M. d.

doreya: This subspecies is found in the Talaud and Sangihe islands of Indonesia. It typically has lighter plumage than other subspecies, with a brownish-lilac breast and a violet-grey neck.

2. M.

d. meyeri: This sub-species is present in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia.

It is the largest of all subspecies, with a darker violet-grey breast and neck. 3.

M. d.

grayi: This sub-species occurs in Buru Island of Maluku province, Indonesia. It is smaller than other subspecies, with a paler breast and neck.

4. M.

d. obscura: This subspecies is common in the eastern Maluku province of Indonesia.

It has a darker brownish-grey head than other subspecies and a duller chest. 5.

M. d.

jobiensis: This subspecies is located in the northern shore of the Papua Province, Indonesia. It is relatively small, and has olive-green feathers in its mantle and wings.

Related Species

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove belongs to the family Columbidae and is related to other species of cuckoo-doves and fruit doves. One of the closest relatives to this species is the Dwarf Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus nainus).

This species is smaller and less robust than the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, with a different coloration that includes a grey crown and greenish-yellow underparts. Another close relative of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is the Black-backed Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus cinctus), which shares its geographic range.

It has black feathers in the mantle and wings and green underparts. This bird species has a similar voice and behavior to the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove but is distinguishable in it’s often less robust appearance.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Sultan’s Cuckoo Dove’s distribution range has undergone changes over time. Studies show that this bird species had a broader range in the past, including Indonesia and the Philippines.

Human activities, including deforestation and habitat loss, have caused the species to lose its original habitat and restrict its range. However, it’s worth noting that according to the IUCN Red List, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is currently assessed as a species of Least Concern due to its relatively large range covering over 50,000 square kilometers.

In addition, the species is adaptable and can thrive even in disturbed habitats. It is a frequent visitor to various gardens and orchards and can tolerate moderate urbanisation to some extent.

In conclusion, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a rich history, remarkable systematics, geographic variation, and various subspecies. The bird’s distribution range has undergone historical changes due to habitat loss, but the species’ current conservation status is relatively secure.

This species’ broad distribution, vibrant plumage, and adaptable nature, make it a remarkable member of the Columbidae family and a beautiful bird species to observe both in the wild and human-influenced areas. The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, also known as Macropygia doreya, is a bird species that is native to the Indo-Pacific region.

This peaceful bird species is known for its beautiful plumage and distinctive features, which makes it a popular choice among bird enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove habitat, their movements, and if they migrate.


TheSultan’s Cuckoo-Doveis widely distributed across a range of different habitats. The bird is commonly found in tropical and subtropical rainforests, where it can comfortably feed on fruits, seeds, and insects.

The bird is also found in lower montane forests, mangroves and disturbed habitats, including human settlements. The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove prefers humid and humid-subtropical forested areas with dense vegetation.

The bird is least common in the drier regions of its range, where it is restricted to small watercourses or gallery forest habitats. These birds can be found from low-level elevations to higher mountain ranges, depending on local conditions.

Therefore the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Doves can be found from sea level up to 1800m in elevation. In the eastern parts of Indonesia, they appear to be largely absent above 800m and are considered to be lowland inhabitants there.

Movements and Migration

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is not known to migrate regularly. However, the bird is capable of covering long-distances for searching for food or new habitats.

The species may also experience some local movements based on the availability of food and nesting opportunities. During the breeding season, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove defends a territory to protect their nest and young.

The male often makes distinctive calls to deter potential predators, which have been described as a deep, hooting sound that is heard throughout the forest. In some populations, this species may have a seasonal movement pattern that may result in the population’s growth at the end of the breeding season, which can explain their sudden disappearance from certain areas.

The Sultan’s cuckoo-dove’s movements are also related to their food source. In months with insufficient fruit, the bird is seen foraging on arthropods and insects or feeding on seeds or flowers.

This bird can become nomadic if food becomes scarce in one area, which could cause them to move to another area in search of food.

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove’s movements and habitats have become a source of interest for wildlife scientists and bird enthusiasts.

Their different habitats, ranging from tropical rainforests to human settlements, have made these bird populations more resilient. Additionally, their capability to forage, eat different types of food, and move to new habitats makes them an adaptable avian species.

In conclusion, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is a fascinating bird species that can be found across a range of habitats in the Indo-Pacific region. It is adaptable, breed year-round, and its movements are related to their food sources, but not related to seasonal migration patterns.

Therefore, observing these birds requires keen attention and knowledge of movement patterns to enjoy their beauty and charismatic attributes. The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia doreya) is a beautiful and impressive bird species with a unique set of behaviors and adaptations.

This bird resides in tropical and subtropical rainforests, lower montane forests, mangroves, and disturbed habitats, where it feeds on fruits, seeds, and insects. In this article, we will delve into the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove diet, foraging behaviors, auditory and vocal communication.

Diet and Foraging

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is a primarily frugivorous bird species that feeds on various fruits, including figs, berries, and other soft fruits. The bird also forages for seeds and vegetable matter when fruits and berries are scarce.

Additionally, the bird can feed on small invertebrates, such as ants, beetles, and centipedes. This avian species usually forages in the lower and mid-canopy layers of the forest, using their agile movements to reach fruits or seeds.

They also have a unique method of swallowing food items that require manual breaking up to facilitate digestion. This habit has enabled the bird to expand the food types and sizes they can digest.


The primary diet of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove consists of various fruits found in the forests they inhabit. This food type contributes up to 95% of the bird’s diet.

Studies show that the bird may also supplement fruits and berries with smaller insects and flower nectar when little fruit is available, especially in areas when fruits are not seasonally available. However, these alternatives are often relatively rare, and the bird’s diet is mainly fruit-based throughout the year.

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove’s digestive system has evolved to efficiently digest large and tough fruit seeds, allowing it to maximize its nutritional intake from such food items. Unlike some birds that regurgitate seeds as they cannot digest them, the digestive organ of these birds allows them to digest seeds that are up to 7 mm in diameter.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a basal body temperature of around 40.5 degrees Celsius. This high temperature is required for this species to digest fruit seeds, which are large and require a high metabolic rate for digestion.

High basal metabolic rates (BMR) are often associated with endothermy, a condition where the bird can regulate its body temperature, but the bird may also be influenced by varying environmental temperatures.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has distinctive vocalization used for communication with other birds in their social group. These vocalizations are usually in the form of cooing sounds, ranging from low-pitched sounds to high-pitched and trilling calls.

Males often emit deep and resonant calls, which can be heard up to a mile away, indicating territorial ownership to competitors and attracting a mate. In contrast, the females sounds are generally softer and often used for communication with their mates when coordinating nest building or foraging movements.


The vocalization of the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is an essential part of their life cycle, particularly during courtship. Males’ calls can be heard throughout the forests they inhabit, usually emanating from a high vantage point such as the upper canopy.

The bird produces a low, deep call that can reverberate through the forest, which is unique for a bird its size. The sound helps establish a territory and attracts potential mates to interact with the caller.

Females produce high-pitched cooing sound during courtship, which is often less noticeable but contributes to the pair-bonding process and coordinating parental duties

In conclusion, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is an impressive bird species with unique adaptations that enable it to adapt to different foraging situations. Its fruit and seed-based diet, a high metabolic rate, and temperature regulation adaptation are all related.

The bird’s vocalization is also an essential part of its communication, which helps establish territorial boundaries and courtship with potential mates. Overall, the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is a remarkable avian species and a treat to observe in their natural habitats.

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia doreya) is a bird species that is known for its unique physical and behavioral features. This bird resides in tropical and subtropical rainforests, mangroves, and disturbed habitats, where it displays a range of behavioral patterns.

In this article, we will delve into the Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove behavior, including its locomotion, self-maintenance, breeding behaviors, and population demographics.



The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has a distinctive locomotion pattern, which includes hopping and leaping from one spot to another. This method of locomotion enhances the bird’s agility and allows it to navigate between leaves and branches of the closed-canopy forest.

Furthermore, the bird uses its legs for self-balance and adjusted pressure to move on uneven planes, reducing the possibility of slipping or falling off branches.

Self Maintenance

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove has self-maintenance behaviors that include preening and sunning itself. Preening is a process of meticulously cleaning its feathers, which can help keep bacterial and fungal infections, and parasites at bay, which would compromise the bird’s health status.

Moreover, the bird often suns itself to regulate its body temperature and dry its feathers. Sunning also helps the bird to disinfect its feathers, which can help prevent lice and other parasitic infestations, a common problem for certain cuckoo-dove species.

Agonistic and Sexual Behavior

The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is known to display agonistic behaviors such as territorial defense, where males compete for access to resources and mating partners. During the breeding season, males often call much louder as a way to advertise their territory to other males and females.

In comparison, females display subtle aggression to other females during courtship when they perceive potential partners as a threat. Such reactions are notably rare among female birds and are more commonly observed in a few avian species.


The Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove breeding behaviors are unique, and they breed year-round with peak breeding occurring in the dry season. Male and female birds form a monogamous pair-bond relationship and construct a rudimentary nest together.

The nest is often a simple structure made from sticks and leaves, placed in the forks of a branch or tree that stands up to six-meter above the ground. The female lays one egg, which is incubated by both the male and female bird.

The incubation period lasts between 16 to 18 days, and the hatching of the egg produces an eager chick, equally attended by both parents, which is ready to hop out of the next and start exploring new environments.

Demography and Populations

Studies have shown that the population of Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove is relatively stable, with an estimated 2,000

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