Biology:Amboyna cuckoo-dove

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Short description: Species of bird

Amboyna cuckoo-dove
Macropygia amboinensis - Siau Island (2).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Macropygia
M. amboinensis
Binomial name
Macropygia amboinensis
(Linnaeus, 1766)

See text


Columba amboinensis Linnaeus, 1766

The Amboyna cuckoo-dove (Macropygia amboinensis) is a dove in the genus Macropygia found in the Moluccas and New Guinea. It was one of three new species defined when the slender-billed cuckoo-dove was split up in 2016 and retains the Latin binomial of the former species.[1]


In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the Amboyna cuckoo-dove in his six volume Ornithologie based on a specimen collected on Ambon Island, one of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. He used the French name La tourterelle d'Amboine and the Latin Turtur amboinensis.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the Amboyna cuckoo-dove which he placed with all the other pigeons in the genus Columba. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Columba amboinensis and cited Brisson's work.[4] The species is now placed in the genus Macropygia was introduced in 1837 by the English naturalist William John Swainson.[5][6]

The Amboyna cuckoo-dove was formerly considered as conspecific with the sultan's cuckoo-dove (Macropygia doreya). The species was split based on an analysis of the vocalisations published in 2016.[6][7]

Nine subspecies are recognized:[6]

  • M. a. amboinensis (Linnaeus, 1766) - Central Moluccas: Buru, Seram, Ambon and Seram Laut
  • M. a. admiralitatis Mayr, 1937 - Admiralty Island
  • M. a. carteretia Bonaparte, 1854 - Bismarck Archipelago (except Admiralty Islands). Includes M. a. hueskeri (Mayr & Diamond, 2001)
  • M. a. keyensis Salvadori, 1876 - Kai Islands
  • M. a. maforensis Salvadori, 1878 - Numfor Island
  • M. a. griseinucha Salvadori, 1876 - Mios Num
  • M. a. meeki Rothschild & Hartert, 1915 - Manam Island
  • M. a. cinereiceps Tristram, 1889 - D'Entrecasteaux Islands. Includes M. a. goldiei and kerstingi (Mayr 1941, Mees 1982)
  • M. a. cunctata Hartert, 1899 - Louisiade Archipelago (Misima, Tagula and Rossel Islands)


The Amboyna cuckoo-dove is typically about 35–37 centimetres (14–15 in) long. Males tend to have a slight rose/green colouration on their nape and neck. In Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, many subspecies have whitish underparts, fine dark barring below and/or a whitish cap.

The call of this dove is a very loud "whoop-a whoop" with some differences depending on the subspecies involved.

Distribution and habitat

The Amboyna cuckoo-dove inhabits rainforest, woodland, scrubland and rainforest regrowth areas.

Behaviour and ecology

The doves can often be seen in pairs or groups. Its diet consists of berries from both native plants and introduced weed species. They can be nomadic, depending on the supplies of food. They tend to fly short distances and low to the ground with great strength.

Breeding occurs in spring and summer. The nest is a flat platform of sticks and vines, either in a fork of a tree or on top of a low tree. One, creamy white, egg is laid.


  1. BirdLife International (2016). "Macropygia amboinensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22690561A93277640. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22690561A93277640.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021. 
  2. Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760) (in French, Latin). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés. 1. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 127–128, Plate 9 fig 3.  The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 28: 317–335. 
  4. Linnaeus, Carl (1766) (in Latin). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 286. 
  5. Swainson, William John (1837). On the Natural History and Classification of Birds. 2. London: John Taylor. pp. 348–349. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds (2020). "Pigeons". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 14 March 2020. 
  7. Ng, E.Y.X.; Eaton, J.A.; Verbelen, P.; Hutchinson, R.O.; Rheindt, F.E. (2016). "Using bioacoustic data to test species limits in an Indo-Pacific island radiation of Macropygia cuckoo doves". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 118 (4): 786–812. doi:10.1111/bij.12768. 

Wikidata ☰ Q688940 entry