Wonga Pigeon

Did you know?

Wonga Pigeons make clearly visible 'tracks' by following exactly the same path each time they visit a feeding site.

Calls
Loud monotonous 'woop woop' calls can be heard up to 2 km away and can be given for hours on end.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
36cm
Maximum Size: 
38cm
Average size: 
37cm
Average weight: 
250g
Breeding season: 
October to January
Clutch Size: 
Two.
Incubation: 
18 days
Nestling Period: 
18 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
QLD: 
VIC: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
44
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Wonga Pigeon, or Wonga Wonga, is a large, plump, ground-dwelling pigeon with a small head, short, broad wings and a long tail. It is mainly grey above, with a pale face, a distinctive white V on the breast and white lower parts which are boldly marked with black-brown crescents and wedges. The eyes are dark red-brown with a pink eye-ring and black lores (area between the bill and the eye) and the bill, feet and legs are deep pink to red. Young Wonga Pigeons are browner above and the V is less distinct. A shy bird, except in areas where it has become used to humans, it will take off with explosive wing-claps if disturbed.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Wonga Pigeon is found along the east coast of Australia, from south-eastern Queensland to Gippsland, Victoria.

Habitat: 

The Wonga Pigeon is found in dense coastal forests, rainforests and scrubs. It is often seen in clearings near forests such as picnic areas, walking tracks, carparks and roadsides, as well as gardens that have bird feeders.

Seasonal movements: 

Sedentary, but will congregate where food is abundant and may have some seasonal movements in south of range.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

The Wonga Pigeon feeds on seeds of native and introduced plants as well as fallen fruit and the occasional insect. It forages exclusively on the ground, often walking long distances along well-defined routes. It mainly feeds in the early morning and late afternoon and sometimes forms large flocks where there is plenty of food.

Breeding: 

The Wonga Pigeon is monogamous, with breeding pairs defending the area around the nest. Threat displays include bowing and clicking while walking towards an intruder. Nests are built in large trees, usually high off the ground, and are a saucer-shaped platform of twigs and sticks, lined with small twigs, vine tendrils and other soft plant materials. Will sometimes use the abandoned nests of Topknot Pigeons or Tawny Frogmouths. Both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the young. They use a special 'cryptic posture' when sitting on the nest, keeping their patterned tail raised high and facing any observers, while peering over the tail to keep an eye on potential threats. This posture is also used when birds are flushed from cover and have flown to a perch. Adults feed the young by regurgitation and young birds will remain with the adults for some time after fledging but are fed less and less often.

Living with us

The Wonga Pigeon formerly occurred further north than at present, to Cardwell, Herbert River and Cairns, Queensland. In the south, it was also formerly found in the Dandenongs and is now rare in the Strzelecki Ranges, Victoria. Populations have suffered from land-clearing, fox predation and, during the 1940s, from shooting to protect crops or for the table, although numbers in many areas have now recovered.

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