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Discover the Fascinating World of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a beautiful and unique bird species widely found across Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. These birds are known for their distinctive barred plumage and soothing calls.

In this article, we will delve into the identification, plumages, and molts of this fascinating bird. Identification:

Field Identification:

Barred Cuckoo-Doves are generally large, measuring up to 36 cm in length, with a wingspan of up to 54 cm, and weight ranging from 200-300 grams.

They have a plump, round body, a short neck, and a small head with a curved bill. Their wings are broad and rounded, with a noticeable white patch on them.

The primary feathers are tipped in white, making for a stunning display when in flight.

Similar Species:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is often confused with other species of the same family, such as the Island Cuckoo-Dove, White-bellied Cuckoo-Dove and Banded Cuckoo-Dove.

The Island Cuckoo-Dove has an all-black bill and lacks the white patch on the outer wing. The White-bellied Cuckoo-Dove has a white belly, while the Barred Cuckoo-Dove has a reddish-brown belly.

The Banded Cuckoo-Dove has a more prominent white patch on the outer wing and has brown barring of different shades on the neck and breast. Plumages:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove has a unique and distinct plumage with different patterns and colors, and the color changes as they mature.

Young birds have a uniform brown color with no bars, while the adult’s plumage is marked with numerous brown and black crossbars on the body and wings. The head, neck and breast have a reddish-brown color.


Like all birds, Barred Cuckoo-Doves undergo molting that enables them to replace old and worn-out feathers with new ones. They have two primary molts; the breeding and non-breeding molts.

Breeding molts occur in spring and summer when the birds’ feathers are at their best condition and ready for mating. Non-breeding molts take place after the breeding season, in fall and winter.

During molting, young birds typically lose feathers uniformly, while adults lose them in patches. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a stunning bird species with unique plumage and soothing calls.

It’s essential to identify and differentiate this bird from other similar species in the same family. Understanding the plumage and molting process is critical in learning more about this bird’s physical characteristics and behavior.

Observing and learning more about this incredible species will undoubtedly lead to a better appreciation of the diversity of birds globally. , as the article will end organically after discussing all the listed topics.

Systematics History:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove was first described by the French naturalist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1818. Initially placed under the genus Columba, genetic studies later confirmed that it belongs to the genus Macropygia.

The family Columbidae is made up of more than 300 species of birds, but Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a unique species with several subspecies. Geographic Variation:

The range of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove spans across Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Due to their wide distribution, various geographical forms of this species can be found across their range. Geographical variation between populations is significant with differences in size, plumage color, and bill size.


There are several recognized subspecies of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove based on geographical location and morphological differences. These include:


M. u.

unchall – Found in the Philippines

2. M.

u. pickeringii – Found in Borneo


M. u.

saturatior – Found in Sulawesi and nearby smaller islands. They are generally small and have more reddish-brown plumage.

4. M.

u. tenebrosa – Found in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and nearby islands.

They have a darker plumage than other subspecies. Related Species:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove belongs to the family Columbidae, which is one of the most diverse bird families globally.

Other members of this family that are closely related to the Barred Cuckoo-Dove include the Sumatran Cuckoo-Dove and the Island Cuckoo-Dove. Both these species have similar plumage and range but differ in their geographical location.

Historical Changes to Distribution:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove’s distribution has undergone considerable changes over the centuries. The expansion of human settlements, deforestation, and hunting has caused severe fragmentation of its habitat, leading to significant declines in numbers.

The species is now classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In recent years, the expansion of oil palm and timber plantations has led to significant losses in its habitat across Southeast Asia.

Habitat degradation and destruction have reduced the Barred Cuckoo-Dove’s potential breeding grounds, leading to a decline in its numbers. The species has a relatively small global population and is only found in isolated pockets of suitable habitat.

The trade of wild-caught birds for the pet trade is another significant threat to the species. The wild-caught bird trade is prevalent in Southeast Asia, and it continues to pose a severe threat to this bird species.

There is a need for habitat restoration, along with the propagation of the species in captivity, to ensure its survival. There is also a need for stricter laws and regulations that will protect the Barred Cuckoo-Dove and other bird species from habitat destruction and overexploitation.


In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a unique and fascinating bird species with several subspecies and a diverse range spanning across Southeast Asia. However, habitat fragmentation and deforestation have caused significant declines in its population, leading to its classification as “Near Threatened”.

It is essential to protect and conserve the species and its habitat before it’s too late. It’s up to all of us to ensure the survival of this stunning bird species.

, as the article will end organically after discussing all the listed topics. Habitat:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove inhabits a variety of habitats, ranging from primary and secondary rainforests to scrublands and mangroves.

They can also be found in lowland, montane, and swamp forests. These birds prefer to live in dense forested areas that have a dense canopy, providing cover for nesting and roosting.

Movements and Migration:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is generally a non-migratory species, and most populations are sedentary year-round. However, some seasonal movements have been observed in certain populations.

For example, in parts of Indonesia, the species moves to lower elevations during the wet season when food is more abundant.

Like many other bird species, juveniles are known to disperse from their natal territories and travel a few kilometers in search of new territories and mates.

During the breeding season, males establish territories and defend them through vocalizations and displays that deter rival males.

In addition, Barred Cuckoo-Doves are known to make regular movements in search of fruiting trees, which form the majority of their diet.

In areas where fruit availability is low, Barred Cuckoo-Doves will move to nearby areas with higher fruit availability. Conservation Status:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is currently considered “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and degradation.

The species’ range has declined rapidly in recent years as a result of deforestation, land development, and human settlement. In addition, the species is often hunted for its meat and captured for the illegal pet trade.

To conserve this species, it is crucial to preserve and protect its natural habitat by reducing deforestation activities, enforcing strict regulations to limit the trade in wild-caught birds, and promoting sustainable farming practices that minimize the impact on natural ecosystems.

In addition, it is essential to conduct further research to better understand the species’ reproductive biology, population dynamics, and ecological requirements, which will help inform conservation strategies and management plans.

The Role of Ecotourism in Conservation:

Ecotourism can play a crucial role in the conservation of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove and other threatened species. By creating economic incentives for local communities to protect and preserve natural habitats, ecotourism can help mitigate the impacts of habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by human activities.

Moreover, ecotourism can provide opportunities for visitors to observe the Barred Cuckoo-Dove in its natural habitat, increasing awareness of the species’ plight and engendering support for conservation efforts.

Proper regulation and management are essential to ensuring that ecotourism does not have a negative impact on the Barred Cuckoo-Dove and its habitat.

This can be achieved through the development of ecotourism programs that utilize best practices for sustainable and responsible tourism. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a unique and fascinating bird species that inhabits a variety of habitats across Southeast Asia.

While they are generally non-migratory, they do make seasonal movements, and juveniles often disperse in search of new territories.

Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, Barred Cuckoo-Dove is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

Proper conservation efforts, including the promotion of sustainable farming practices and responsible ecotourism, are required to protect this species and its habitat for future generations. , as the article will end organically after discussing all the listed topics.

Diet and Foraging:


The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a frugivorous bird species and feeds mainly on a diet of fruits, berries, and seeds. The fruit makes up the majority of its diet, and they consume a wide variety of fruit types, including figs, palms, and other berries.

They may also occasionally consume insects and small invertebrates but in small quantities. Diet:

In Southeast Asia, Barred Cuckoo-Doves have been observed feeding on the fruits of Fig, Macaranga, Ficus, and several other plant genera.

The birds typically swallow fruits whole, partially crushing them with their bills, and then digest the pulp while discarding the seeds.

Barred Cuckoo-Doves often feed in the treetops, and they will hop through branches and twigs to reach fruit.

They do not appear to have any special adaptations to access fruit resources, such as long bills or specialized foot structures. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

Like all birds, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove has a high metabolic rate to maintain high levels of energy expenditure required for flight.

They also regulate their body temperature differently from mammals, as they have a higher body temperature and a four-chambered heart, which circulates oxygenated blood more efficiently than mammals. Barred Cuckoo-Doves have specialized adaptations to help regulate their body temperature, such as the ability to reduce blood flow to the periphery during cold weather, which helps to maintain their core body temperature.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior:


The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a vocal species and has a variety of different calls that they use to communicate with each other. The most common call is a low-pitched hooting sound that is often heard early in the morning and late in the evening.

During the breeding season, males will call to advertise their territory and attract females. These calls are low-pitched and often sound like a deep “who-cooks-for-you” or “coo-coo-coo” sound.

The calls of Barred Cuckoo-Doves are one of the signature sounds of tropical forests in Southeast Asia and can often be heard echoing through the forest canopy. During courtship, males will also perform a distinctive display that involves fluffing up their feathers, bowing their heads, and calling to attract a mate.

The visual and auditory displays of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove are a beautiful sight to behold and are an essential part of the species’ social behavior. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a unique and fascinating bird species with specialized adaptations for metabolizing food and regulating body temperature.

Their frugivorous diet and foraging behavior play a vital role in shaping the ecosystem of the areas they inhabit. Their vocalizations and visual displays are an essential component of their social behavior and play a crucial role in courtship and territorial defense.

It is critical to protect this species and its habitat for future generations to enjoy the beauty of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove and the diversity of bird species in Southeast Asia. , as the article will end organically after discussing all the listed topics.



Like other members of the Columbidae family, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove primarily moves by flying. However, they are also capable of hopping and walking along tree branches and the forest floor, using their feet to grip onto surfaces.


Barred Cuckoo-Doves are fastidious birds that spend a significant amount of time grooming and preening their feathers. Preening plays a crucial role in maintaining feather condition, keeping the feathers clean and healthy, and removing any parasites that may be present.

Agonistic Behavior:

Barred Cuckoo-Doves are generally solitary birds, but during the breeding season, males will establish a territory and engage in aggressive behavior towards rival males. Agonistic behavior may involve vocal displays, such as calling and cooing, as well as physical displays, such as puffing up their feathers and flapping their wings.

This behavior is used to intimidate rivals and defend their territory. Sexual Behavior:

During the breeding season, males will engage in courtship displays to attract a mate.

They will puff up their feathers, bow their heads, and display their colorful plumage while calling to advertise their territory. Females will assess the males’ displays and will often choose the male with the most impressive display.

Once a pair has bonded, they will engage in mutual preening and build a nest together. The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a monogamous species, and pairs will usually remain together for several breeding seasons.


Barred Cuckoo-Doves typically breed during the months of March to August, which corresponds to the rainy season in Southeast Asia. The species nests on tree branches or in tree hollows, building a simple platform out of sticks, leaves, and twigs.

The female will typically lay only one egg per clutch, which is incubated by both the male and the female for around two weeks until it hatches.

After the chick hatches, the parents will take turns feeding it and keeping it warm until it is ready to fledge.

The juvenile bird will stay with its parents for several weeks before venturing out on its own. Demography and Populations:

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a relatively common species in some parts of Southeast Asia, but its population has experienced significant declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

The species is now classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. The Philippine subspecies, M.

u. unchall, is considered to be the most threatened of the subspecies due to habitat destruction and hunting.

The exact demography of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is not well understood. However, it is believed that the species has a relatively low reproductive rate, which makes it vulnerable to habitat destruction and other threats.

To ensure the long-term conservation of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove, more research is needed on the species’ demography and population dynamics. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a fascinating bird species with a complex range of behaviors, from locomotion to agonistic and sexual displays.

During the breeding season, pairs will bond and build a nest together, with both parents caring for the chick until it is ready to fledge. The population of the Barred Cuckoo-Dove has experienced significant declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

It is crucial to protect this species and its habitat for future generations to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of this unique bird species. More research is needed on the species’ demography and population dynamics to better inform conservation efforts.

In conclusion, the Barred Cuckoo-Dove is a captivating bird species found across Southeast Asia, known for its unique plumage, vocalizations, and fascinating behaviors. This article has provided an in-depth look at various aspects of the bird, including its identification, subspecies, historical changes to its distribution, diet, and breeding behavior.

The Barred Cuckoo-Dove’s population has been declining significantly due to habitat fragmentation and other anthropogenic threats. Therefore, it’s vital to protect their habitats and promote conservation efforts to ensure their long-term survival.

This article highlights the importance of studying and understanding the Barred Cuckoo-Dove, providing valuable insights into the ecology and life history of these unique and beautiful birds.

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