Bird O'clock

Discover the Unique and Fascinating World of the Brush Bronzewing: Behaviors Plumages and Populations

Brush Bronzewing, Phaps elegansThe Brush Bronzewing is an Australian native bird species, known for its beautiful plumage and unique characteristics. It belongs to the family of Columbidae that comprises of birds which are commonly called doves and pigeons.

In this article, we will explore the identification, similar species, plumages, and molts of the Brush Bronzewing. Identification:

The Brush Bronzewing is a medium-sized bird, with a length of 33cm and a wingspan of 60cm.

It has a rich bronzed-green plumage, with white spots on its wings, and a metallic bronze patch on its neck. The birds’ underparts are grey with pinkish highlights, and its tail feathers are tipped with yellow.

The Brush Bronzewing has a short, rounded dark bill, and red or orange eyes surrounded by a black ring. Males and females appear identical, with no obvious distinctions in size or color.

Field Identification:

The Brush Bronzewing’s distinctive greenish-bronze plumage and white wing spots make it easily recognizable in flight. Moreover, its size and rounded head, combined with its distinctive calls, are characteristic field identification clues that can be used to spot this bird in its natural habitat.

Similar Species:

The Brush Bronzewing is relatively easy to distinguish from other bird species. Its unique bronzed-green plumage helps differentiate it from other native birds, such as the Crested Pigeon and the Peaceful Dove.

However, the Brush Bronzewing can be confused with Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, which has similar plumage but has a more slender appearance and distinctive call. Plumages:

The Brush Bronzewing has distinct plumages that vary depending on the bird’s age, sex, and time of year.

The juvenile Brush Bronzewing has overall brownish-grey coloration with dull greenish-bronze plumage when compared to the adult birds. The main feathers start to change color from brown-gray to bronze-green with pale spots about six months old, the bird attains adult plumage.

The Brush Bronzewings color richness and brightness vary during breeding seasons, displaying a richer bronze-green during breeding periods.


Birds undergo molt- the shedding and replacement of feathers- periodically throughout the year.

Molting period ranges from two weeks to several months depending on the species. The Brush Bronzewing molts annually, typically in late summer or early autumn, during which time they replace their feathers entirely.

During the molt, the birds plumages become dull, making it difficult to distinguish male and female members. In Conclusion:

From Identification to the antics of its plumage to the characteristics of its Molts, the Brush Bronzewing stands as a unique bird species.

Its abilities to change color, recognizable distinctive calls, and its elegant plumage are interesting features that make the species a joy to watch. Take a walk in its natural habitat to observe the bird with its capability to blend with the trees and remain unnoticed.

Systematics History:

The Brush Bronzewing, Phaps elegans, belongs to the family of Columbidae and is a native bird species of Australia. It was first described by John Gould in 1837 and is also known by some common names such as Brush Bronze Pigeon, Brush Bronzewinged Pigeon, Australian Bronzewing, and Brush Bronzewing Pigeon.

Over the years, many changes have been made to the Brush Bronzewing’s taxonomy, resulting in a complex history. Geographic Variation:

The Brush Bronzewing is distributed across mainland Australia, excluding Tasmania, and is commonly found in savannas, grasslands, and woodland areas.

However, populations of the Brush Bronzewing show geographic variation across their distribution range. The populations of this bird species that are located in the northern tropical regions of Australia have a more vivid and vibrant plumage, whereas the populations in arid regions are slightly larger in size than their counterparts in the north.


The geographic variation of the Brush Bronzewing has resulted in subspecies being identified within the bird species. Nine subspecies of Phaps elegans have been recognized, although not all of them have been universally accepted.

Depending on the subspecies, differences can be distinguished in size, weight, and color. The subspecies currently recognized include:

– P.e. elegans: This subspecies is the nominate subspecies and is found in Eastern and Southern Australia.

– P.e. arnhemicus: This subspecies is found in the Northern Territory and North-Western parts of Australia. – P.e. barbata: This subspecies is found in Western Australia and has a distinctive black whisker-mark on each side of its head.

– P.e. cephalotes: This subspecies is found in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia and has a coppery-red patch on the nape of the neck. – P.e. coenensis: This subspecies is found in Cape York Peninsula, Australia.

– P.e. gymnogyna: This subspecies is found in South-Eastern Australia and Eastern Victoria. – P.e. occidentalis: This subspecies is found in Western Australia.

– P.e. rubricosa: This subspecies is found in North-Western Australia. – P.e. scalptus: This subspecies is found in Western Queensland, Northern Territory, and Western Australia.

Some subspecies are further divided into variants, reflecting the complexity of the Brush Bronzewing’s taxonomy. Related Species:

The Brush Bronzewing has some close relatives within the Columbidae family, including the Common Bronzewing, Flock Bronzewing, and the Square-tailed Pigeon.

The Common Bronzewing, Phaps chalcoptera, has a similar plumage color to the Brush Bronzewing, but its wings lack the Brush Bronzewing’s distinctive white spots. The Flock Bronzewing, Phaps histrionica, is slightly smaller in size and has a more vibrant orange-russet color compared to the Brush Bronzewing.

Finally, the Square-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata, which is typically found in South America, has a broader tail with distinct square shapes and is not closely related to the Brush Bronzewing despite sharing a similar appearance. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The Brush Bronzewing has historically been affected by numerous changes to its distribution resulting from the impact of human activities on its habitat.

In the past, the bird species was abundant and widespread, ranging from the arid lands of Western Australia to the eastern woodlands and coastal heaths. However, the introduction of feral predators, increased land usage by humans, and vegetation clearing has significantly impacted the Brush Bronzewing’s historical distribution.

Populations in several areas have declined drastically, and the bird’s regional extinction has been reported in some areas of the species’ former range. In Conclusion:

The taxonomy of the Brush Bronzewing has undergone changes throughout the years due to geographic variations in its distribution.

Nine subspecies have been identified and recognized with slight differences in size, weight, and color. The Brush Bronzewing has close relatives within the Columbidae family.

Human activities have also resulted in changes to the Brush Bronzewing’s historical distribution, including regional extinctions and decreasing population numbers. The Brush Bronzewing is a unique and fascinating species that deserves our attention and conservation efforts to secure its continued existence.


The Brush Bronzewing is an Australian bird species that inhabits a wide range of landscapes, including savannas, grasslands, and woodlands. They prefer open habitats with a scattered tree canopy and feed on various plant materials, including grass seeds, fruits, and tree seeds.

They are also known to supplement their diet with insects, including termites. These birds usually live in pairs or small family groups, and each group inhabits a specific territory.

Within their habitat, Brush Bronzewings often roost and nest in trees. They prefer tall trees with dense foliage, such as eucalyptus trees, as their nesting sites.

Brush Bronzewings construct a rudimentary nest with a few twigs and dried leaves, which are located at a height of approximately 5 to 10 meters off the ground. This species has a strong affinity towards their territories and will often return to the same nesting sites year after year.

Movements and Migration:

Although the Brush Bronzewing is capable of flight, it is not known for undertaking long migrations. They are sedentary birds, and movements between nearby locations are usually undertaken in search of food or to establish new territorial boundaries.

Brush Bronzewings typically forage in pairs or small groups, but occasionally they may move in larger flocks of up to 100 birds. These flocks are often formed during times of temporary food abundance.

Female Brush Bronzewings are territorial during the breeding season and will defend their nest site vigorously. Male birds also participate in defending the territory, patrolling the boundaries and giving warning calls when an intruder enters the territory.

During these times, these birds may exhibit aggressive behavior towards other birds or animals that are perceived to be a threat to their nest sites. In some parts of its range, such as arid areas, seasonal variations in food availability have led to more complex movements.

The movements of Brush Bronzewings in these areas are often in response to rainfall patterns and the resulting availability of food resources. While these birds are sedentary, it is not uncommon for juveniles to disperse after fledging.

The juveniles may travel up to 50 kilometers from their natal site before choosing to settle. As to be expected, migratory behavior is not common to this species.

In Conclusion:

The Brush Bronzewing is a sedentary bird species that inhabits various types of Australian landscapes. They are found in savannas, grasslands, and woodlands, where they feed on a variety of plant materials and insects.

Brush Bronzewings are highly territorial during their breeding season, defending their nests from predators. This bird species is not known for undertaking long migrations, but they do undertake seasonal movements in some areas.

Juveniles may disperse over short distances before settling and establishing their own territories. The habits of Brush Bronzewings are in keeping with other Australian ground feeders and presents them as unique and fascinating birds.

Diet and Foraging:

The Brush Bronzewing is a ground-feeding bird species that primarily feeds on plant material and insects, including grass seeds, fruit, tree seeds, and termites. These birds will also feed on the ground, using their strong feet and long legs to scratch the soil surface to unearth invertebrates.

Brush Bronzewings are primarily seed-eaters, with seeds making up a significant portion of their diet. Seeds are cracked open using the bill, which is short and powerful, with a sharp hook at the tip used to break open seed pods.

Brush Bronzewings are known to feed in pairs or small family groups, foraging on the ground together. During times of temporary food abundance, larger flocks of up to 100 birds will form to feed in the same area.

The Brush Bronzewing has a slow metabolic rate, so it does not require a large amount of food to maintain its body temperature. During winter, this species can convert the small amount of food they consume into energy efficiently to keep their body temperature elevated and maintain optimal body function.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Brush Bronzewing has what is known as an ectothermic metabolism and is capable of regulating its body temperature more passively than birds with an endothermic metabolism. This adaptation has allowed them to be successful in arid environments where limited food and water are available.

During hotter parts of the day, Brush Bronzewings may lower their metabolism, reduce their food intake, or find shade to regulate their body temperature. On the other hand, when temperatures decrease in colder weather, Brush Bronzewings can generate metabolic heat by feeding on food rich in fat and protein such as insects and seeds.

They achieve this by increasing their food intake to produce heat during the digestion process. This efficient metabolism helps the bird survive the low temperatures that may affect body function.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

The Brush Bronzewing is a relatively silent bird species and primarily communicates through soft, low-pitched coos. They are known for their monotonic and low-pitched resonance that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of their vocalizations.

The birds produce two types of vocalizations – a short, soft coo and a prolonged series of coos that are often heard during the breeding season. The vocalization of Brush Bronzewing is different among the sexes with males producing a louder, more extended, and more forceful series.

This variation in vocalization is a method of communication during the breeding season when males engage in courtship displays and vocalizations to attract females. It is important to note that male Brush Bronzewings are known to produce a louder vocalization when in their territory as part of determining dominance and territorial boundaries.

In conclusion:

Brush Bronzewing is a ground-feeding bird that primarily feeds on plant material and insects. Their diet includes grass seeds, fruit, tree seeds, and termites.

Brush Bronzewings have an ectothermic metabolism, which means they are capable of regulating their body temperature passively and also require limited food consumption. These birds have a somewhat unique vocalization pattern that is low-pitched and monotonic that serves as a tool for communication between the sexes and during courtship.

Overall, the Brush Bronzewing is a unique and fascinating bird species found in the Australian landscape. Behavior:

The Brush Bronzewing is a ground-dwelling bird species that displays a range of behaviors that enable it to adapt to its habitat.

These behaviors are related to locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding. Locomotion:

Brush Bronzewings have strong feet and legs adapted to ground feeding and scratch the soil surface using their feet to unearth invertebrates.

These birds have an average walking speed of about 4.8 kilometers per hour, and they can escape potential predators (such as raptors and foxes) by running away at great speeds in a zigzag pattern. Self-Maintenance:

Brush Bronzewing birds use their beaks to preen their feathers and remove dirt and debris.

The act of preening is important for both a physical and psychological function- keeping them clean and free from disease while relaxing and preparing their bodies for daily activities. Agonistic Behavior:

Brush Bronzewing birds engage in agonistic behaviors during the breeding season, primarily in response to threats to their territory and nesting sites.

These birds use a range of aggression displays during these periods, including raising their feathers, lowering their wings, and lashing their tails back and forth. Prolonged and high-pitched coos are also used to signal aggression, using the charismatic vocalization to both communicate with the intruder and assert their territorial dominance.

Sexual Behavior:

Male and female Brush Bronzewings engage in complex courtship behaviors during the breeding season. Males start displaying breeding activity from early spring, where they select a specific tree or perch location to attract female mates.

The displays consist of puffing themselves up, cooing, and holding their wings in a specific posture. Females typically initiate the courtship rituals, and mating occurs in the selected courtship spot, which depends on factors such as available breeding habitat and territorial boundaries.


The Brush Bronzewing breeds after winter and into early summer. The breeding season for Brush Bronzewings varies from location to location, depending on habitat and environmental factors.

Nests are typically constructed in tree branches or on the ground in the shelter of vegetation, where a single female will lay two eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female for around 17-21 days, and both parents are involved in caring for the chicks.

Young birds fledge after leaving the nest and becoming independent after three to four weeks. Demography and Populations:

Populational data shows that the Brush Bronzewing is a species whose populations numbers vary across its range.

In southern regions of Australia, populations of Brush Bronzewings remain stable or are increasing, while northern populations continue showing a decline. Studies show human-induced environmental changes are a massive threat to the survival of this species, with potential adverse consequences on their overall delicate populational health.

Habitat destruction, pollution, predation by invasive predator species, and human interference are some of the significant threats to this bird species, resulting in declining populations in some regions. Conservation measures have been established to protect the most vulnerable populations of Brush Bronzewings, including the protection of nesting habitats and predator management programs.


Brush Bronzewing birds have a range of behaviors adapted to their survival needs. These behaviors include their locomotion on the ground, self-maintenance of feather plumage, and agonistic behaviors activated for territorial and breeding purposes.

Their reproductive cycle is a unique and dynamic process, with both males and females displaying breeding activity, courtship rituals, and caring for the chicks post-fledging. Brush Bronzwewing populations face increasing threats from human and environmental factors, highlighting the need for protective conservation measures to secure their future.

The Brush Bronzewing is a unique and fascinating bird species that inhabits the Australian landscape. It’s ground-feeding behavior, rough plumage, and low-pitched vocalization make this species stand out.

The bird species show a range of behaviors adapted to their survival needs, including territorial defense, breeding behavior, and self-maintenance. Brush Bron

Popular Posts