The Luzon bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) is one of a number of species of ground dove in the genus Gallicolumba that are called "bleeding-hearts". They get this name from a splash of vivid red colour at the centre of their white breasts. The Luzon Bleeding-heart is the species in which this feature is most pronounced, and on first sight it is hard to believe that the bird has not recently been wounded. A reddish hue that extends down the belly furthers the illusion of blood having run down the bird's front.
On its upper surfaces, the Luzon bleeding-heart is slate grey in colour, but because it is iridescent, it can appear to be purple, royal blue, or bottle-green, and the apparent colour varies with lighting conditions. The belly and under wing areas are buff or chestnut. As in most pigeons, there is little sexual dimorphism; males tend to be larger and have a more pronounced red patch, and some authorities claim that the female has a purplish iris, though others dispute this. Body shape is typical of the genus, with a round body, a short tail and long legs.
The species is endemic to the island of Luzon, Philippines. Three subspecies are known. Gallicolumba luzonica luzonica is found on the central and southern parts of the large island of Luzon, and the neighbouring small Polillo Islands. The subspecies of Gallicolumba luzonica griseolateralis is found on the Northern part of Luzon while Gallicolumba luzonica rubiventris is found exclusively on Catanduanes Island. Gallicolumba luzonica rubiventris or known as Catanduanes bleeding-heart has only single collected specimen in 1971; this subspecies is very rare as it is believed to be near extinction or already extinct.
It lives in primary or secondary forest, and can be found at altitudes varying from sea level up to 1400 metres. They eat seeds, berries and grubs. They are shy and secretive, and very quiet, and rarely leave the ground except when nesting. Unlike the other bleeding-hearts, they usually lay two eggs in each clutch.
Although not formally regarded as endangered, the Luzon bleeding-heart is under some threat, since it is commonly trapped. Local people use it for meat, but its striking appearance means that there is also a market for it in the pet trade. A captive breeding project has been started in Australia.
The Luzon bleeding-heart was featured on a Philippine 2-peso postage stamp in 1994.
In popular culture
Hatoful Boyfriend, a visual novel/dating sim in which all of the characters except the player are birds, notably features a Luzon bleeding-heart character named Anghel. This character is initially the subject of much concern, as characters who are unfamiliar with Luzon plumage fear that he has a gaping chest wound.
Luzon Bleeding Heart is also the name of a Rock band from Leicestershire, England.
The Bleeding Heart Pigeon was also the inspiration for the name of a SE Asia based publishing firm. www.bleedingheartpublications.com