The Whistling Dove (Ptilinopus layardi)

Ptilinopus layardi

The Whistling Dove (Ptilinopus layardi) male is uniformy green, darker on the back with a conspicuous yellowish green head, white belly and yellow undertail coverts. The female is similar but lacks the distinctive head plumage.

Ptilinopus layardiFirst collected by naturalists from the Challenger Expedition which visited Fiji in 1874, this dove was named after Edgar Layard, the acting British Consul at the time who was one of Fiji’s pioneering ornithologists. The dove is rather secretive but It can usually be found by taking one of the trails from the resort up into the bush. Local bush guides are available should you wish to venture far.

Ptilinopus layardi is endemic to the islands of Kadavu and neighbouring Ono in south-west Fiji.

In 2000, surveys found this species to be common in evergreen forests, with 53 birds recorded (mostly calling males) in 23.5 hours in a mixed lowland and montane site, and 17 birds in 15 hours at a montane site, equating to 23 birds/km2 and 11 birds/km2 at these sites respectively, mostly calling males.

There are a number of possible errors in this estimate, especially the number of silent birds overlooked (they can be a bot of a pain in staying quiet some days!) and the species’s higher abundance at lower altitudes, where calling males can be as little as 100 m apart.

The area of dense and medium-dense forest on Kadavu is around 225 km, suggesting that the total population is around 10,000 birds. However, the species also occurs on the island of Ono which probably constitutes a second sub-population (as this and other Chrysoenas doves are rarely seen flying outside forest and have not been recorded from smaller islands), numbering about 5% of the total population.

Sometimes placed in genus or subgenus Chrysoena, which forms a distinctive Fijian superspecies also including P. victor and P. luteovirens; these three are thought to represent an early colonization of Fiji by Ptilinopus stock. Monotypic.

Distribution: SW Fiji, on Kadavu and Ono.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Ptilinopus layardi.

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