Fruit dove

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Fruit doves
Jambu Fruit Dove 2010.jpg
Jambu fruit dove, Ptilinopus jambu
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Subfamily: Ptilinopinae
Genus: Ptilinopus
Swainson, 1825

see text



The fruit doves, also known as fruit pigeons, are a genus (Ptilinopus) of birds in the pigeon and dove family (Columbidae). These colourful, frugivorous doves are found in forests and woodlands in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It is a large genus with over 50 species, some threatened or already extinct.


The genus Ptilinopus was introduced in 1825 by the English naturalist William John Swainson with the rose-crowned fruit dove (Ptilinopus regina) as the type species.[1][2] The genus name combines the Ancient Greek ptilon meaning "feather" with pous meaning "foot".[3]

The many species of this genus can be further grouped by geography and by certain shared characteristics. The fruit doves of the Sunda Islands and northern Australia, such as the pink-headed fruit dove and banded fruit dove, have comparatively longer tails than other species, and are notable for their solid colouration on the head, neck and breast, with a black band across the belly. Another grouping can be made of certain fruit doves endemic to New Guinea, the Moluccas, and the Bismarck Archipelago, including the carunculated fruit dove, knob-billed fruit dove, and others; these are notable for their grey colouration on the head or shoulder and/or enlarged cere (part of the bill). This group is uncharacteristically not sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females look alike. The orange dove, golden dove, and whistling dove, all endemic to Fiji and sometimes placed in their own genus Chrysoenas, have in common their small size, compact shape, yellow or orange colouration in the males, and hair-like body feathers. They also are known for their rather un-pigeon-like vocalizations, which sound like snapping, barking, or whistling, respectively.[4] Finally, the Pacific Islands provide homes to a number of species that share generally green colouration with crimson caps or crowns, ventriloquial cooing or hooting, and a distinct texture of the breast feathers.[5] Recent evidence suggests Ptilinopus as presently defined is paraphyletic as Alectroenas and Drepanoptila are embedded within it.[6]


Dwarf fruit dove (Ptilinopus nainus), Lobo, New Guinea, 1828

The genus contains 55 species:[7]

Rose-crowned fruit dove (Ptilinopus regina) from Australia and Indonesia
Male pink-headed fruit dove, Ptilinopus porphyreus


These small- to medium-sized doves generally have short, fan-shaped tails,[5] and are remarkable for their colourful and often glossy plumage, as evidenced in the aptly named orange fruit dove, flame-breasted fruit dove, and pink-headed fruit dove.[4] Males and females of many fruit dove species look very different. For example, the female many-colored fruit dove shares the male's crimson crown and deep pink undertail feathers, but is otherwise green, whereas the male has a crimson on the upper back and has areas of yellow, olive, cinnamon, and grey.[4][5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This is a large genus, most diverse in and around the island of New Guinea, in the Philippines, and in the biogeographical region of Wallacea. Some species have ranges as far west as the Sunda Islands, others north to Taiwan, south to Australia, and east into Polynesia.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Chick of a black-naped fruit dove (Ptilinopus melanospilus)

Fruit doves, as their name implies, eat fruit—Ficus is especially important[5]—and live in various kinds of forest or woodland. Some species are restricted to primary forest, such as lowland rainforest, montane forest, or monsoon forest, while others prefer secondary forest or disturbed areas. Some species specialize in particular habitats, from lowland coastal forest to the cloud forest or moss forest of high altitudes. Some species of fruit doves are only found in habitats dominated by particular plants, such as mangrove, eucalyptus, or pandanus. Only a few species can commonly be seen around human habitation, these include the knob-billed fruit dove, Makatea fruit dove, and black-naped fruit dove, which are known to visit gardens and such.[4]

Much is still to be learned about fruit doves. Many species are shy and difficult to observe in their natural habitat. For example, there are several species in the Philippines, and for most of them, little or nothing is known of their breeding or nesting behavior.[8]


  1. ^ Swainson, William John (1825). "On the characters and natural affinities of several new birds from Australasia; including some observations on the Columbidae". Zoological Journal. 1: 463–484 [473–474].
  2. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1937). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 28.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 322. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Gibbs, David; Barnes, Eustace; Cox, John (2001). Pigeons and Doves: A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World. Yale University Press. pp. 120–144, 457–521. ISBN 0-300-07886-2.
  5. ^ a b c d Pratt, H. Douglas (1987). The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press. pp. 196, 201–202. ISBN 0-691-02399-9.
  6. ^ Gibb, G.C.; Penny, D. (2010). "Two aspects along the continuum of pigeon evolution: a South-Pacific radiation and the relationship of pigeons within Neoaves". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 56 (2): 698–706. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.04.016.
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Pigeons". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  8. ^ Kennedy, Robert S.; Gonzales, Pedro C.; Dickinson, Edward C.; Miranda, Hector C., Jr.; Fisher, Timothy H. (2000). A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford University Press. pp. 138–141. ISBN 0-19-854668-8.