Strikingly beautiful and intelligent, the Victoria crowned pigeon is a fascinating ground bird to watch. It is common to see at a zoo or aviary. Although this is a gentle bird, it is not a bird for novices. Even pigeon fanciers and experienced bird owners need to ensure they have the dedicated space and time required by these majestic creatures.
Common Name: Victoria crowned pigeon
Scientific Name: Goura victoria
Adult Size: 28 to 30 inches from head to tail; nearly as large as an adult female turkey, they weighing about half as much, roughly 7 pounds
Life Expectancy: 25 years in captivity with proper care
Origin and History
Originally from New Guinea and introduced to nearby islands, the Victoria crowned pigeon has been bred in captivity for hundreds of years. They're a common sight in the United States and the United Kingdom at zoos and aviaries, though they are somewhat rare in the pet bird trade.
This bird is the largest living pigeon and the closest remaining relative to the extinct dodo bird. It was named in honor of Queen Victoria for its flashy blue crown of intricate lace-like patterns and its regal poise.
In the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, Victoria crowned pigeons were hunted for their meat and feathers. Due to hunting and habitat destruction, the wild population had declined rapidly, endangering the species to near extinction. As a protected species, it has improved from being a "threatened" and "vulnerable" species to "near threatened." Deforestation of its natural habitat still occurs.
Victoria crowned pigeons are known to be intelligent and quite easy to tame. This bird is docile by nature, which is why they're a frequent attraction at zoos. They are often left to roam the grounds freely and tend to be happiest when foraging for food on the ground and wandering around.
This bird can fly short distances but will only fly when necessary, usually when startled, in danger, or in need of a high roost in the trees for the night.
Speech and Vocalizations
The call of this pigeon is unlike breeds you may be used to. It is not a soothing, cooing pigeon. Victoria crowned pigeons let out more of a hollow "boom" sound that can be quite loud and surprising.
Victoria Crowned Pigeon Colors and Markings
A stunning bird, Victoria crowned pigeons sport powdery blue feathers on their bodies with red eyes, a dark mask, and maroon breasts. They display a lighter shade of blue on their wings and in a band on their tailfeathers.
The crest looks like a beautiful display of dark blue lace with vivid white tips. This crown makes them seem more like a peacock than a pigeon.
This bird is a monomorphic species, meaning males and females look alike. A male may be slightly larger than a female, but it's barely noticeable. To figure out the sex of your bird, it would require a surgical sexing procedure or a genetic test.
Caring for Victoria Crowned Pigeons
Victoria crowned pigeons spend quite a bit of time on the ground and need plenty of room to run around and exercise. They need a minimum of 200 square feet of ground space in their enclosures. They also need roosts at various heights.
These space requirements can be hard for even the most dedicated enthusiast to meet. In other words, if you can't provide your bird with a flight the same size as the average bedroom, then you should not consider adopting a Victoria crowned pigeon.
These pigeons tend to do best as a pair in a single flight enclosure; a solo bird may become too lonely. During the breeding season, males may fight each other. The males have an elaborate courtship dance. Generally, a mating pair will only produce a maximum of three eggs each year. Both the male and female incubate the eggs, which takes around a month to hatch and raise the young squabs.
Despite their docile personality, this is not a low maintenance bird. Since they are foragers, clean the enclosure regularly, so they don't get health issues from eating their droppings along with their food.
Keep in mind that the birds are native to a tropical climate and will do best in warm, humid regions. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your region gets cold, you'll need to figure out how to provide heat. The enclosure should also protect the birds from wind and rain.
Victoria crowned pigeons generally tolerate birds of other species quite well. It is often best when they're the only ground bird. For example, you do not want to keep these birds with a busy flock of chickens; it will stress out the pigeons that often prefer a calm environment.
Common Health Problems
The biggest health threats for these birds are fungal infections they can get from their fecal droppings. The birds breathe in fungal spores that form on their droppings. These spores can cause potentially fatal respiratory diseases, such as histoplasmosis and candidiasis.
Diet and Nutrition
Like all pigeons, Victoria crowned pigeons feed on the ground. In the wild, their diet consists mainly of fallen fruits, seeds, grains, and small invertebrates. They're particularly fond of figs.
Captive crowned pigeons do well on a high-quality seed and grain mix, and many keepers stick with a standard dove mix. They should also get regular servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Offer about a 1 cup of seed mix and 1 cup of fruits and vegetables per day—adjust the daily portion according to their appetite. This species is not known for overeating. Remove any uneaten fresh food at the end of each day to prevent spoilage.
Like most pigeons, these birds need plenty of room to exercise, stretch their muscles, and play. They will entertain themselves and stroll around the enclosure foraging. You can encourage this habit by strategically placing their food around the enclosure and offering them an exciting variety of foods and hidden treats.
Gentle, docile disposition
Can get along and live with other bird species
Requires large aviary or room-sized enclosure
Needs to live with at least one other bird
Where to Adopt or Buy a Victoria Crowned Pigeon
While these pigeons may be more obscure than other bird species, there are a few aviaries left in the U.S. that breed and offer them for private sale. If you can provide for the bird's needs and have your heart set on one, keep looking. The chances are that you will find one eventually. Be prepared to pay a hefty price because a pair can easily run a few thousand dollars. Rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you might find Victoria crowned pigeons include:
Make sure that the bird you want to take home is healthy. The bird should be alert, active, and have bright eyes, clean feathers, and a full crop.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
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Otherwise, check out all of our other large bird species profiles.