Overview

The Luzon Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) is a striking bird species known for its distinctive coloration, marked by a bright red patch on the chest that gives an illusion of a bleeding heart. Native to the Philippines, these birds are mainly found on the island of Luzon, hence their name. They are part of the pigeon and dove family, Columbidae, and are remarkable for their ground-dwelling habits and melodious cooing.

 

Although shy and elusive, Luzon Bleeding-hearts profoundly impact the ecosystems they inhabit, playing critical roles in seed dispersal. Their unique “bleeding-heart” markings have drawn significant interest, making them popular birds in aviculture. However, their attractiveness has also contributed to their declining numbers, as they face threats from illegal hunting and habitat loss.

 

Despite their popularity, much about the Luzon Bleeding-heart remain mysterious, including specifics about their mating habits and lifestyle. Their elusive nature and the dense, remote rainforests they inhabit make them challenging subjects for study, leading to their status as one of the more enigmatic and captivating bird species in the world.

Physical Description:

The Luzon Bleeding-heart is a medium-sized bird with a body length of approximately 29 cm. Its most notable physical feature is the ‘blood’ red patch on its white chest, creating the illusion of an open wound and giving the species its name. The remaining underparts are off-white, while its back, wings, and tail are grey to slate blue.

The bird’s head is crowned with bluish-grey feathers, with an iridescent green patch on its neck. The species’ eyes are a bold red or yellow, framed by a narrow band of bare, bluish skin. Both males and females have similar colorations, although females may have a slightly duller hue. The species’ short, robust beak is perfect for its omnivorous diet, and its legs and feet, generally hidden beneath its plump body, are a solid red or pink.

Lifespan: Wild: ~15 Years || Captivity: ~20 Years

Weight: Male: 6.2 - 6.7 oz (175 - 190 g) || Female: 5.5 - 6.0 oz (155 - 170 g)

Length: Male & Female: Approximately 11.4 inches (29 cm)

Height: Male & Female: Approximately 12 inches (30.48 cm)

Wingspan: Male & Female: Approximately 17.7 inches (45 cm)

Top Speed: 20 mph (32 km/h)

Native Habitat:

The Luzon Bleeding-heart is endemic to the Philippines and is predominantly found on the island of Luzon. They inhabit lowland and montane forests and prefer dense, primary rainforests with abundant undergrowth, which provide the necessary cover to evade predators. Their preference for ground dwelling means they often choose foraging habitats with thick leaf litter.

However, these birds are also found in secondary forests and on forest edges due to habitat loss and human encroachment. They can sometimes even be spotted in plantations and cultivated lands. Regardless of the specific habitat, the availability of food resources and protection from predators remain critical for their survival and reproduction.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:
Continents:
Countries:
Diet:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

Luzon Bleeding-hearts are omnivorous birds with a diverse diet. They feed primarily on the forest floor, foraging for various seeds, berries, fallen fruits, and small invertebrates such as insects, snails, and worms. The ability to feed on both plant and animal matter allows these birds to maintain a balanced diet and adapt to various food availabilities across different habitats.

These birds are often found pecking at the ground for food, their strong beaks serving as efficient tools for this purpose. They also play a crucial role in their ecosystem as seed dispersers, helping maintain their forest habitats’ health and diversity. Their feeding habits, in turn, influence their nesting sites and migration patterns.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

The mating habits of the Luzon Bleeding-heart remain somewhat elusive, owing to their secretive nature and the dense, inaccessible habitats they favor. What is known is that they’re monogamous birds, forming pair bonds that can last for many years.

During courtship, the male performs an elaborate display, puffing out his chest to accentuate the ‘bleeding-heart’ marking and dancing around the female while cooing melodically. Nest building is a shared responsibility, with males and females collecting twigs, leaves, and roots to create a simple nest, usually on the ground or low in trees or shrubs.

Reproduction Season:

Year-round
Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~14 Days (Incubation)

Female Name:

Hen

Male Name:

Cock

Baby Name:

Squab

Social Structure Description:

The Luzon Bleeding-heart is a generally solitary bird, although they may be found in pairs during the breeding season. They are not highly social birds, and interactions between individuals outside the mating pair are poorly documented. Their ground-dwelling habits and preference for dense undergrowth keep them relatively hidden and solitary.

Groups:

School
Conservation Status:
Population Trend:

Population:

Wild: Unknown || Captivity: Unknown

Population:

The Luzon Bleeding-heart population has declined in the wild due to various factors, primarily habitat loss and illegal hunting for the pet trade. While they remain widespread across Luzon, their distribution is becoming increasingly fragmented. Captive populations are more stable, as the birds breed well in captivity. Still, their wild and captive total numbers are difficult to estimate accurately due to their elusive nature and habitat inaccessibility.

Population Threats:

The primary threats to Luzon Bleeding-hearts are habitat loss and hunting. Expanding agriculture, logging, and human settlement have significantly reduced and fragmented their forest habitats. They are also highly sought after in the illegal pet trade due to their distinctive coloration and rarity. As ground-dwelling birds, they are particularly vulnerable to these threats.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation efforts for the Luzon Bleeding-heart are focused on habitat protection and reducing illegal hunting and trade. Protected areas have been established within their range to conserve their habitats. Awareness campaigns and community engagement initiatives are being implemented to curb hunting and trade. Captive breeding and release programs are also in place to bolster their wild populations.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • The Luzon Bleeding-heart gets its name from the distinctive ‘bleeding heart’ mark on its chest, making it one of the most dramatically marked birds in the world.
  • It is a ground-dwelling bird, spending most of its time on the forest floor.
  • Despite its striking appearance, it is known for its shy and elusive nature.
  • These birds play a crucial role in their ecosystem as seed dispersers.
  • They are monogamous and known to form pair bonds that last for many years.
  • The Luzon Bleeding-heart can live up to 20 years in captivity, longer than in the wild.
  • Their distinctive ‘bleeding-heart’ marking is used in courtship displays.
  • The species is a popular bird in aviculture, contributing to their decline in the wild due to illegal hunting.
  • They are very adaptable, capable of surviving in different habitats including secondary forests and plantations.
  • Despite being a bird, the Luzon Bleeding-heart prefers walking over flying and has relatively short flights.