Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove

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Is the Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Luzon Bleeding Heart

Scientific name: Gallicolumba luzonica

The basics:
The Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove is one of the most highly coveted exotic doves in aviculture, but it must be reserved for the dedicated experts, since it is a “near threatened” species which has presented significant challenges even to experienced breeders. This species is the best-known of the so-called “bleeding hearts” from the Philippines, although others may occasionally be encountered.

While the Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove is not currently endangered, experts are becoming concerned because of its limited range on two islands, Luzon and Polillo. They are threatened by habitat destruction, by people hunting them because plump little doves taste good, and by admirers who wish to keep or sell them as pets. Know your breeder, and do not accept birds from questionable sources.

You notice the Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove right away, because of the spectacular crimson blotch on the snow-white chest, which mimics the appearance of a deadly chest wound. The feathers are even specially shaped, to grow in to form a dimple at the heart, which adds to the impression of a sucking wound. The sexes look much alike, and the serious breeder is advised to pursue DNA tests to make sure the birds are properly paired.

150 - 200 grams

Average size:
25 centimeters

15 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
Luzon Bleeding Heart Doves are busy little birds who tend to scratch in the leaf litter like chickens, the source of their genus name, Gallicolumba -- Latin for “chicken dove.” Also reminiscent of a rooster, the male can be rather persistent toward his mate when he's in the mood for love, so make sure she has enough room and cover to be able to get away for some peace and quiet when she needs it.

The Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove needs a large aviary with some floor space that allows them to scratch around in the dirt or leaf litter. They are considered somewhat shy and flighty, unless they have enough vegetation in the aviary to feel comfortable. Although they spend most of their waking hours down low, they may enjoy nesting or roosting relatively high, so one pair of these birds may be enough to occupy an entire flight. They are gentle birds toward non-competing species, and they are often displayed very well in large mixed-species, planted aviaries. As tropical birds, they do require protection against the cold and the damp, as well as all predators that enjoy feasting on tasty little doves.

Be warned: The Luzon Bleeding Heart has somewhat of a poor reputation for breeding in captivity, partly because its agreeable nature works against itself. It can be housed to make a lovely display in the mixed species planted aviary...but it may be reluctant to breed if it has to compete with other birds and other species. Some breeders strongly recommend that you house one pair, and one pair alone, to each generously planted flight if you want to enjoy success breeding these birds.

The Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove, as a bird of the forest floor, has a diet that can be a little more involved than that of the popular exotic doves of more arid origins. You should certainly provide a seed mix. One breeder recommends a high quality commercial dove mix combined with safflower and some small hookbill or budgerigar/parakeet seed mix. They should also have softbill or pigeon pellets, as well as chopped fruit and an assortment of live insects such as mealworms or waxworms.

Written by Elaine Radford

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