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8 Fascinating Facts About the Black-backed Fruit-Dove

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove, or scientifically known as Ptilinopus cinctus, is a fascinating bird species that can be found in the lowland rainforests of Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago. With its striking plumage and distinctive cooing calls, this bird is a sight to behold for bird enthusiasts and enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we’ll delve more into identifying this bird, its plumages, and molts, so you can easily identify it in the wild. Identification:

Field Identification:

One of the most striking features of the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is its beautiful, colorful plumage.

The male has a purplish-black back that extends to the wings, offsetting its bright green head, throat, and upper breast. Its lower breast and belly are bright yellow, while its eyes are blue-gray, and its legs and feet are coral red.

Females, on the other hand, have less striking plumages, with light green heads and necks, olive-green backs, yellow undersides, and reddish feet. Regardless of their gender, both birds have a distinctive cooing vocalization that can be heard from afar.

Similar Species:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has several other fruit-dove species that are similar in appearance to it. These species include the Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove, Cream-headed Fruit-Dove, and the Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove.

However, the easiest way to identify the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is to look for its blackish-purple back and bright green head and upper breast. Plumages:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has several plumages throughout its life, which are as follows:

– Juvenile Plumage: The juveniles have duller and more muted green colors, with a tan head, neck, and breast.

They also have a black bill, whereas adults have a red bill. – Adult Plumage:

– Non-breeding Plumage: During non-breeding, the adult birds appear duller and less colorful, with the purple-black back appearing more brownish.

– Breeding Plumage: During breeding, the male birds become more vibrant and colorful, with their blackish-purple back appearing more striking against their bright green head and upper breast. Molts:

Black-backed Fruit-Doves undergo two molt seasons throughout their lives, which are the Pre-breeding and Post-breeding molts.

The Pre-breeding molt happens before the breeding season, which results in adult males having more vibrant colors and plumage, while the Post-breeding molt happens after their breeding season, resulting in a change of plumage and colors. The molt pattern of the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is still not entirely well-understood.


Identifying the Black-backed Fruit-Dove may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge, it will quickly become an easy task. By remembering its distinctive purple-black back and bright green head and upper breast, you’ll be able to distinguish it easily from its similar-looking fruit-dove species.

This bird’s riveting physical appearance and vocalization make it a delightful sight for bird watchers and enthusiasts alike. With the information provided in this article, we hope you’ll be able to spot and appreciate the fascinating Black-backed Fruit-Dove in the wild.

Systematics History:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has had a long history of taxonomic confusion, with several subspecies and related species being difficult to differentiate due to their similar physical appearances. It wasn’t until the 18th century when the bird was first described by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, and zoologist.

In 1783, Johann Friedrich Gmelin, a German naturalist, classified the Black-backed Fruit-Dove under the Columba genus, but it wasn’t until 1817 when the French zoologist, Louis Pierre Vieillot, classified it under the genus Ptilinopus. Geographic Variation:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has considerable geographic variation in coloration, size, and physical features within its range.

The main differences in coloration are between the two sexes, with males having a more striking and colorful plumage than females. The males have a purple-black back and wings, contrasting with their bright green head and upper breast.

Their lower breast and belly are bright yellow, and their eyes are blue-gray, and their legs and feet are coral red. Females, on the other hand, have less striking plumages, with light green heads and necks, olive-green backs, yellow undersides, and reddish feet.


There are several recognized subspecies of the Black-backed Fruit-Dove, each having slightly different geographical ranges and physical features. These subspecies are as follows:

– P.

c. cinctus: This subspecies is the nominal form and is found in Sulawesi, Sangihe, and Talaud Islands.

These birds are larger than other subspecies, and their colors are more vibrant than others. – P.

c. pulchellus: This subspecies is found in the Banggai and Sula Islands and has a more reddish plumage than other subspecies and is smaller in size.

– P. c.

ornatus: This subspecies is found in the Moluccas and has a more purple-black back than the nominal form, with an overall more subdued coloration. – P.

c. canescens: This subspecies is found in the island of Buru and has a more grayish appearance than other subspecies.

Related Species:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove belongs to the Ptilinopus genus, which is composed of fruit-doves that can be found across Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and Australia. Within this genus, the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is closely related to the Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove, the Cream-headed Fruit-Dove, and the Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove.

These species share many similar physical features, including their bright plumage, gentle cooing calls, and frugivorous diet. However, the Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s striking purple-black back and yellow belly set it apart from its close relatives.

Historical Changes to Distribution:

Throughout history, the distribution of the Black-backed Fruit-Dove has undergone several changes due to habitat destruction, deforestation, and other factors. In the past, these birds were found in a vast range throughout the Indonesian Archipelago, including Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Sangihe, and Talaud Islands.

However, with the onset of colonialism in the region, widespread deforestation began, leading to the fragmentation and loss of their natural habitat. As a result, today, these birds are mainly found in isolated patches of lowland rainforests in Sulawesi, the Talaud Islands, and other small islands in the region.

The IUCN Red List currently categorizes the Black-backed Fruit-Dove as “Least Concern,” though habitat loss and other factors continue to pose a significant threat to its overall population. Conclusion:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is a fascinating bird species with a long and complicated systematics history, several recognized subspecies, and close relatives.

Despite its striking physical appearance and vocalizations, its population has seen a decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation. However, conservation efforts are underway to protect its natural habitat and ensure the prevention of more significant population loss and extinction.

Knowledge of its geographic variation, subspecies, and related species will be vital in future conservation efforts and studying the evolution of the Ptilinopus genus. Habitat:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove can be found in lowland rainforests across Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago, where it roams through the canopy layer in search of fruit and plant matter.

These birds prefer primary and secondary forests and can occasionally be found in degraded forests and plantations. Their natural habitat consists of dense tropical vegetation with an abundance of fruiting trees and shrubs.

Fruit forms a significant part of their diet, so they are usually found in areas with high fruit production. They are also attracted to disturbed areas with fruit trees, making them a common sight in cultivated areas such as orchards and gardens.

Movements and Migration:

Black-backed Fruit-Doves are considered non-migratory, with small-scale movements within their range due to changes in food availability and breeding activities. They are known to be sedentary, with some birds forming pairs that remain in the same territory year-round.

This behavior keeps them in closer proximity to fruiting plants, which forms the bulk of their diet. However, there have been observations of some birds making short seasonal movements in response to fruiting cycles and availability.

Despite being non-migratory, the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is not found everywhere in its range evenly. They seem to occur in patchy distributions, and their population density is influenced by several factors, such as the availability of specific fruit resources and the presence or absence of predators.

Many pigeon and dove species make regular movements in response to seasonal changes in food resources. Still, the Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s sedentary behavior makes it an indicator species of the health and biodiversity of tropical forests.

Habitat Loss and Its Effect on the Black-backed Fruit-Dove Population:

Habitat loss and fragmentation remain the most significant threats to the Black-backed Fruit-Dove population. They have lost much of their natural habitat as a result of logging, agricultural expansion, and urbanization, which has dramatically decreased their population size.

The loss of habitat has affected their breeding success, food availability, and nesting sites. With fewer available resources, their population has become more concentrated in the remaining patches of suitable habitat, leading to more vulnerability to disease and predation.

In addition to habitat loss, other threats to the Black-backed Fruit-Dove include poaching, hunting, and trapping for food and the illegal pet trade. The pet trade has been an ongoing issue due to the species’ striking physical appearance, making it a highly sought-after bird in the cage-bird market.

Conservation Measures:

Several conservation measures have been implemented to protect the Black-backed Fruit-Dove and its habitat. Protected areas have been created to conserve its natural habitat, and several campaigns aimed at encouraging sustainable forest management have been established in regions where the bird occurs.

International trade regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) also help monitor and regulate the pet trade of this species and protect it from further exploitation. Education and awareness campaigns aimed at rural communities, landowners, and policymakers have also been established to encourage the sustainable use of natural resources and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s habitat and habitat needs.


The Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s habitat is essential to its survival and well-being, and its non-migratory behavior makes it more susceptible to habitat loss and fragmentation. Its distribution and population density are influenced by several factors, such as food availability and predation.

Conservation measures aimed at protecting the species and its habitat have been implemented, but further efforts are needed to ensure the preservation of the species for future generations. Diet and Foraging:


The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is primarily an arboreal fruit-eating bird, but it also consumes flowering buds, insects, and small invertebrates.

They feed mainly in the canopy layer, using their sharp bill to extract fruit from the trees and flowers from the plants. They are gregarious feeders and can occasionally forage on the ground searching for fallen fruits.


The Black-backed Fruit-Dove feeds on a broad range of fruits and berries, with a preference for ripe figs and other soft fruits. They have also been observed consuming the fruit of specific tree species, such as the Semecarpus or Anacardium orientale.

This bird has an opportunistic feeding behavior, and their diet varies depending on seasonal and regional fruit availability. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has a high metabolic rate and produces large amounts of heat when digesting fruit.

They maintain a high body temperature, even at rest, and can reduce it during periods of limited fruit availability to conserve energy. Like most birds, they have a highly efficient respiratory system that allows for maximum oxygen intake during flight and energy expenditure during foraging.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior:


The Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s vocal behavior is another distinguishing feature that sets it apart from its closely-related fruit-dove species. They have a soft, gentle cooing call that is one of the most beautiful sounds in the tropical rainforests.

Their call is described as a soft, woo-oo-oo, woo-oo-oo, with the first note rising in pitch and the second falling. The male Black-backed Fruit-Dove can be heard calling more frequently during the breeding season, and their calls are often used to attract females and maintain territories.

In addition to their cooing calls, they also have a range of other vocalizations that vary depending on their behavior. They make rapid wing-claps and trills when displaying or communicating with their mates.

When threatened or feeling threatened, they may perform a series of sharp, alarm calls or a long, whistling sound. These vocalizations play an essential role in their communication and behavior, enabling them to communicate with their mate, signal danger, locate each other, and establish dominance and territory.

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s vocalizations are not only beautiful but are also essential to their survival in the wild. These calls ensure communication within the flock, warn of impending danger, and attract mates during the breeding season.

Understanding their vocal behavior can provide insights on their behavior and contribute to conservation efforts to maintain the population of these beautiful birds in their natural habitat. Conclusion:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is a specialist frugivore that feeds primarily on fruits and occasionally insects and flowers.

Their metabolism and temperature regulation are adjusted for their energy-intensive diet and highly active foraging behavior. They also have a fascinating vocal behavior that includes cooing calls, wing-claps, trills, and alarm calls.

Their vocalizations play an essential role in their mating behavior, establishing territory, and alerting others of potential danger. With further research into their vocal behavior, conservationists can work towards preserving their habitat and protecting their population in the wild.



The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is a highly active bird species, foraging in the canopy layer of the forest and using their sharp bills to extract fruit and flowers from plants. They are strong flyers, capable of rapid and agile flight when escaping predators or moving between fruiting trees.


Like all bird species, the Black-backed Fruit-Dove spends a significant amount of its time maintaining its physical condition. They will spend hours preening their feathers, keeping them clean, and in good condition.

They also engage in sun-bathing and dusting, which helps them to maintain their feathers’ structural integrity and eliminate parasites. Agonistic Behavior:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove has a hierarchical social structure, and agonistic behavior within the flock occurs, particularly during the breeding season.

Males will compete for territories and mates, sometimes engaging in aggressive displays, such as fluffing up their feathers and flying up into the air to intimidate their competitors. Such displays are aimed at impressing females and establishes their dominance.

Sexual Behavior:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove’s mating behavior is highly ritualized, starting with the male claiming and maintaining a territory during the breeding season. The male will attract females through song and displaying.

Once a female accepts a male’s territory, copulation occurs, which generally takes place on a branch or other aerial perch. The pair will then build a small platform of twigs and leaves as a nesting site.


Black-backed Fruit-Doves are monogamous, with pairs commonly staying together year-round. The breeding season lasts from February to September, with the peak occurring during March and April.

During this period, pairs engage in elaborate courtship displays that include singing and wing-fluttering. After pairing, the female will lay one or two eggs, which are incubated for fourteen days, and the chicks fledged after another fourteen days.

Demography and Populations:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove population has experienced declines in recent years due to habitat loss and fragmentation. As a result, the population has become concentrated within small and isolated patches of suitable habitat, and the birds’ range has become restricted.

The species is currently classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, but several conservation measures have been implemented to protect the bird and its habitat. Conservationists are working to reduce habitat loss through sustainable forest management practices and protected area management.

They are also raising awareness among local communities on the importance of sustainable land use and the protection of this species and other wildlife that depends on rainforests. Conclusion:

The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is a fascinating bird species that has a highly active foraging behavior and a hierarchical social structure.

They engage in an elaborate courtship display during breeding season before constructing a nest, laying eggs, and raising an offspring. Habitat loss and fragmentation continue to pose significant threats to their populations, but conservation measures are being implemented to protect this species and its habitat.

Understanding the behavior and life cycle of the Black-backed Fruit-Dove is essential in ensuring their continued survival and protecting them for future generations. The Black-backed Fruit-Dove is an important bird species in Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago.

Its striking physical appearance,

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