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Unveiling the Unique Beauty of the Dark-Backed Imperial-Pigeon: Behaviors Ecology and Conservation

Bird: Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon, Ducula lacernulataThe Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon, scientifically known as Ducula lacernulata, is a large bird species that is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, ranging from the Indian Subcontinent to Indonesia. This species belongs to the family Columbidae, which consists of doves and pigeons, and it has distinctive features that make it stand out from other members of its family.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, and molts of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon.

Identification

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a large bird that measures around 4248 cm in length and weighs between 600700 grams. The species has a dark-grey crown, nape, upper back, and wings that contrast with its light-grey lower back and belly.

Its tail feathers are also dark-grey, while its legs and bill are bright red. This species has a distinctive frill of feathers around its neck, which makes it stand out from other pigeons.

Field

Identification

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon can be easily identified in the field due to its large size and unique features. Its dark-grey feathers on the crown, nape, upper back, and wings, together with the frill of feathers around the neck, make it easy to distinguish from other pigeon species, such as the Rock Pigeon and Spotted Dove.

Similar Species

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is often confused with similar-looking species such as the Pied Imperial-Pigeon, which has a white body and wings with a contrasting black tail. The Green Imperial-Pigeon, on the other hand, has a greenish-yellow back and wings, white underparts, and a lack of a frill of feathers around its neck.

Plumages

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has two distinct plumages that occur during its lifetime: the juvenile and adult plumages.

Juvenile Plumage

The juvenile plumage of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is characterized by grey feathers on the head, wings, and back, with brownish-grey feathers on the breast and belly. The frill of feathers around its neck is not yet fully developed at this stage.

Adult Plumage

The adult plumage of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a striking grey color on the crown, nape, upper back, and wings. The lower back and belly are light grey, while the frill of feathers around its neck is fully developed and prominent.

Molts

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon undergoes a complete molt once a year, which typically takes place between May and November. During this time, the species replaces all of its feathers.

The new feathers that grow in are generally darker and more vibrant than the old feathers. In conclusion, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a unique and easily recognizable bird species that is native to Southeast Asia.

Its dark-grey plumage on the crown, nape, upper back, and wings, together with the frill of feathers around its neck, make it a distinctive member of the Columbidae family. Understanding the identification, plumages, and molts of this species can help bird enthusiasts appreciate its unique beauty.

Systematics History

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon, scientifically known as Ducula lacernulata, is a bird species that belongs to the family Columbidae. The systematics history of this species has evolved over time, with various classification schemes based on different characteristics.

In the early 20th century, this species was considered to be part of the genus Chalcophaps, which consisted of small ground-dwelling doves. However, as more information was gathered on the genetics and morphology of this species, it was reclassified within the genus Ducula.

Geographic Variation

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a species that is found across a wide range of habitats in Southeast Asia, from the Indian Subcontinent to Indonesia. Due to this species’ broad distribution, there are variations in its appearance and behavior across different geographic regions.

Subspecies

There are three recognized subspecies of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon:

1. D.

l. lacernulata – This subspecies is found in the northeastern region of India, including the states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur.

This subspecies is known for its dark-grey plumage on its head, wings, and upper back. 2.

D. l.

batu – This subspecies is found in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Riau Archipelago. This subspecies is characterized by its larger size and lighter grey coloring on its head, wings, and upper back.

3. D.

l. obscura – This subspecies is found on the islands of Java, Bali, and Lombok.

This subspecies has a distinctive dark grey coloring throughout its body, including its head, wings, back, and belly.

Related Species

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is part of the genus Ducula, which consists of over 30 species of pigeons and doves. Other species within this genus that are closely related to the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon include the Pied Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) and the Pink-headed Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula rosacea).

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has undergone significant changes over time, mainly due to habitat loss and hunting. This species was once found in large numbers throughout its range, but its population has declined in recent years as a result of deforestation and agriculture.

In some regions, hunting of this species for food has also contributed to its decline. As a result of these factors, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is now listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

However, conservation efforts are needed to protect the remaining population of this species and its habitat.

Conclusion

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a unique and interesting bird species with a rich systematics history and geographic variation across its range. Understanding the subspecies and related species of this bird can provide valuable insights into its evolution and behavior.

Additionally, knowledge of the historical changes to its distribution can highlight the importance of conservation efforts to ensure the survival of this species and its habitat for future generations.

Habitat

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a bird species that is found in a variety of habitats across Southeast Asia, ranging from coastal areas to tropical forests. This species is known to prefer primary and secondary forests, where it feeds on various fruits and seeds.

However, it can also be found in agricultural areas and urban environments, where it feeds on crops and human refuse. The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is distributed throughout the Indian Subcontinent, including northeastern India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

In these areas, it is found in various forest types, such as tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous forests. It can also be found in small numbers in urban areas, where it feeds on fruit trees and human refuse.

In the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Riau Archipelago, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is found in lowland and montane rainforests. It can also be found in secondary forests and suburban areas.

In these regions, this species is often found near rivers and streams. On the islands of Java, Bali, and Lombok, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is found in lowland and montane rainforests, as well as in agricultural areas and urban environments.

Overall, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is adaptable and can thrive in a range of habitats, but it is most commonly found in forested areas.

Movements and Migration

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a non-migratory species. It is known to be highly territorial and prefers to stay in one area throughout the year.

However, this species may engage in short-distance movements to find food and water during times of scarcity. Within its range, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is known to make seasonal movements in response to the availability of food resources.

For example, during the fruiting season, this species may move to areas where fruiting trees are abundant. In urban areas, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon may also move between different neighborhoods in search of food and nesting sites.

However, these movements are generally limited to short distances. The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is also known to travel in flocks during the breeding season, which occurs from January to April.

At this time, flocks may gather in large numbers to feed on fruiting trees and engage in courtship behaviors. Overall, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a sedentary species that does not engage in long-distance migrations.

However, it may make short-distance movements within its range in response to changes in food availability or other environmental factors.

Conservation Status

Despite being adaptable and widely distributed across its range, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon faces several threats to its survival.

Habitat loss and degradation due to deforestation, agriculture, and urbanization are major threats to this species, as it depends on forested habitats for food and shelter.

In addition to habitat loss, this species is also hunted for food and viewed as a pest in some areas. These threats have led to a decline in the population of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon in some regions.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon as a species of Least Concern. However, continued conservation efforts are needed to protect this species and its habitat from further degradation and to promote sustainable hunting practices in areas where it is legally allowed.

Diet and Foraging

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a bird species that feeds mainly on fruits and seeds, but it may also consume small insects and other invertebrates when fruit is scarce. This species is known for its generalist feeding habits, as it can consume a wide variety of fruits from different plant species.

Feeding

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon feeds primarily in the canopy of trees, where it searches for ripe fruit. This species may also feed on fallen fruit, which it picks up from the ground.

Diet

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has a varied diet that consists of fruits such as figs, berries, and drupes. It has also been observed feeding on agricultural crops, such as papayas, bananas, and mangoes.

In addition to fruit, this species may consume small insects and invertebrates.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has a unique adaptation for regulating its body temperature. It feeds on fruits with high water content, which keeps its body hydrated and helps to regulate its internal temperature.

Additionally, this species can excrete excess salt through its nasal glands, which helps to conserve water and maintain its internal salt balance.

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a vocal species that communicates through a variety of calls and vocalizations. These sounds provide important cues for social communication and mate recognition.

Vocalization

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has a variety of vocalizations, including coos, moans, and grunts. The male of this species has a distinctive “hoo-hoo-hoo” call, which is often used as a territorial display during the breeding season.

During courtship, the male will also perform elaborate displays, such as bowing and wing-fanning, while making soft cooing sounds. These displays and vocalizations are used to attract females and establish dominance over other males.

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon also has a range of alarm calls, such as loud screeches and rapid coos, which are used to alert others in the flock of potential danger.

Overall, the vocalizations of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon play an important role in its social behavior, courtship, and survival.

Behavior

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a bird species that exhibits a wide range of behaviors related to its locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding.

Locomotion

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a relatively inactive bird, spending most of its time perching in trees or foraging for food. However, when it does move, it has a distinctive flight pattern that consists of slow, deep wing beats interspersed with gliding.

Self Maintenance

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon spends a significant amount of time preening and grooming its feathers, which helps to maintain their condition and performance. Agonistic

Behavior

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a territorial species that engages in aggressive behaviors towards intruders.

During the breeding season, males will often engage in physical displays, such as wing flapping and cooing, to establish dominance over other males and attract females. Sexual

Behavior

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon engages in courtship behavior during the breeding season, which occurs from January to April.

Males will perform elaborate displays, such as bowing and wing-fanning, while making soft cooing sounds to attract females. Once a pair has formed, they will engage in mutual preening and other bonding behaviors.

Breeding

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a monogamous species that forms long-term pairs for breeding. The male will construct a platform-shaped nest using twigs and leaves, typically in the upper branches of a tree.

The female will then lay one or two eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 17 days. After hatching, the chicks will be fed by both parents until they fledge at around 28 days of age.

The parents will continue to care for the chicks for several weeks after they fledge until they become independent.

Demography and Populations

The Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon has a relatively stable population across its range, but it is threatened by habitat loss and hunting in some areas. The species is currently listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

In areas where the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is hunted for food, populations have declined significantly. Additionally, habitat loss due to deforestation and agriculture has led to a decline in the population of this species in some regions.

Conservation efforts are needed to protect the remaining populations of the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon and its habitat. These efforts may include reforestation programs, sustainable hunting practices, and conservation education programs to raise awareness about the importance of this species and its ecosystem.

In conclusion, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a fascinating bird species with a range of unique behaviors related to its locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding. Despite being relatively inactive, this species is adapted to survive in a variety of habitats and has a varied diet consisting of fruits and seeds.

Understanding the behavior and ecology of this species is important for conservation efforts aimed at protecting it and its habitat. In conclusion, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is a unique and fascinating bird species that exhibits a range of behaviors related to its foraging, locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, breeding, and other aspects of its life cycle.

This species has a wide distribution across Southeast Asia, and is adapted to survive in a variety of habitats. However, the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon is facing significant threats to its survival, including habitat loss and degradation, as well as hunting.

Understanding the behavior and ecology of this species is critical to developing effective conservation strategies aimed at protecting it and its habitat. By taking steps to protect the Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon and its ecosystem, we can help ensure that this fascinating bird continues to thrive and contribute to the rich biodiversity of Southeast Asia.

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