Gallicolumba luzonicaLuzon bleeding-heart

Geographic Range

Gallicolumba luzonica is endemic to the central and southern regions of Luzon and the smaller offshore island Polillo. These islands are located in the northern region of the Philippine Archipelago, one of the largest island groups in the world. Luzon is heavily populated and has a mountainous region in the north. The climate varies greatly with a wet season occuring from June to October and a dry season from November to May. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997)


Gallicolumba luzonica inhabits lowland forest and spends the majority of its time on the forest floor feeding. These birds roost and nest in low to medium height trees, shrubbery and vines. They use the thick surrounding undergrowth to escape from predators. They can be found from sea level to elevations of 1400 m. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1400 m
    0.00 to 4593.18 ft

Physical Description

Gallicolumba luzonica has a characteristic dark red patch on its breast that looks like a bleeding wound. Short tailed and long legged; these exclusively terrestrial birds have light blue-gray wings and heads with blackish bills. The wing coverts are marked with three dark red-brown bands. Their throat, breast and under parts are white, lighter pink feathers surround the red patch on the breast. Their legs and feet are red. These birds are not sexually dimorphic and the sexes are difficult to tell apart. Some males do appear slightly larger with a broader head, but most birds need to be sexed surgically to achieve reliable results.

Gallicolumba luzonica weighs 184 g, on average and is 30 cm long. The average wingspan is 38 cm. (Grzimek, 1972; Peterson, et al., 2000)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    184 g
    6.48 oz
  • Average length
    30 cm
    11.81 in
  • Average wingspan
    38 cm
    14.96 in


In captivity these birds are monogamous and maintain a strong bond, usually pairing for life. During breeding, males attract females with courtship displays. The male chases the female displaying an inflated breast to fully show his vivid blood markings or "heart". Once the female is smitten, the male bows his head and coos lovingly to his intended mate. (Naether, 1973; The Chaffee Zoo, Date Unknown)

It has proven difficult to observe these shy birds in their natural habitat, hence little is known about their reproductive behaviors outside of captivity. It is presumed that nesting most likely occurs during mid-May when other subspecies of the same genus nest on nearby Philippine islands. In captivity, breeding pairs can mate year-round. Females lay 2 creamy white eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for 15 to 17 days; the cock sits on the eggs during the day and the hen sits on them at night. Although the young leave the nest after 10 to 14 days, parents continue to feed the fledglings for up to one month. At 2 to 3 months the young begin to develop adult plumage and must be separated from the parents. If this does not occur, parents will attack and sometimes kill their young. At 18 months, the juveniles go through a second molt and become sexually mature. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997; Grzimek, 1972)

  • Breeding season
    Nesting is most likely to ocuur during mid-May when other subspecies of same genus nest in the Philippines.
  • Average eggs per season
  • Range time to hatching
    17 to 15 days
  • Range fledging age
    14 to 10 days
  • Average time to independence
    3 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    18 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    18 months

Parents go to great lengths to be good caregivers to their altricial young. Incubation usually takes 15 to 17 days; both parents are responsible for this task, usually switching places only twice each day. The chicks are fed "crop milk". This substance is very close in consistency and chemical make-up to mammal milk. Both parents regurgitate this nutrious, high protein substance that is produced in the lining of their crop. Although the chicks leave the nest after 10 to 14 days, parents stay close to their offspring for 2 to 3 months. (Peterson, et al., 2000; The Chaffee Zoo, Date Unknown)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female


Gallicolumba luzonica has a very long lifespan, usually living 15 years in the wild. In captivity, these birds will often live well into their twenties. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997; Naether, 1973)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    25 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 years


This species of ground dove is very secretive and shy, spending the majority of its time on the forest floor. When approached the birds fly only a short distance and escape on foot. In nature these birds are relatively tame but in captivity they become aggressive. Often, males must be separated and only one breeding pair may be kept per aviary. (Peterson, et al., 2000)

Home Range

We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

The calls of G. luzonica are a single coooooo, raising in pitch only slightly in the middle of the call. Typically these birds are incredibly secretive and nearly silent. Males use a soft co-co-cooooo during courtship to attract females. Males also attract females with courtship displays. The male chases the female displaying an inflated breast to fully show his vivid blood markings or "heart". (Naether, 1973; The Chaffee Zoo, Date Unknown)

Food Habits

In their natural habitat, these terrestrial birds feed primarily on seeds, fallen berries and a variety of insects and worms found on the forest floor. In captivity, the birds may be fed oilseeds, vegetables and cheese for added nutrients when a pair is breeding. (Grzimek, 1972; The Chaffee Zoo, Date Unknown)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Predators include native mammals (class Mammalia), reptiles (class Reptilia) and birds of prey (order Falconiformes). Gallicolumba luzonica uses the thick surrounding undergrowth to escape from predators. (Peterson, et al., 2000)

Ecosystem Roles

Many plant species depend on G. luzonica for seed dispersal. In captivity, these birds are hosts to parasites (Trichomonas) and develop cankers that cause illness and death if left untreated. (Naether, 1973)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These birds play an important role in biodiversity and local ecology. The islands of Luzon and Polillo are home to many rare, endemic species and one of the top five bodiversity hotspots in the world. These habitats include watersheds that protect against soil erosion and landslides. The birds help ensure the success of these forests through seed dispersal. Gallicolumba luzonica and their habitat are key to ecotourism and sustaining the island's biodiversity. These birds are also hunted for food and the pet trade. (Brooks, et al., 2002; Klop, et al., 1998)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of G. luzonica on humans.

Conservation Status

Although there is no immediate risk of extinction, G. luzonica is considered "near threatened" and was recognized by CITES, Appendix II in 1975. Since that time the natural habitiat of G. luzonica has been reduced and there have been further decreases in their population. The Philippine Red Data Book also lists the species as "near threatened" and therefore considers it a national conservation priority. Although no major conservation or reintroduction projects are underway, G. luzonica can be found in zoos around the world.

The native people in Luzon pose a great threat to this species by trapping the tame birds for meat and for sale in the pet trade. In recent years a lot of land was damaged with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Increases in population sizes of cities and deforestation greatly impact this endemic bird. (Brooks, et al., 2002)


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Christina Lee (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


Brooks, T., R. Mittermeier, C. Mittermeier, G. da Fonseca, A. Rylands. 2002. Habitat Loss and Extinction in the Hotspots of Biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 16(4): 909-923.

Grzimek, B. 1972. Gallicolumba luzonica. Pp. 279-280 in Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 8. United States: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.

Klop, E., E. Curio, Y. de Soye. 1998. A new population of Bleeding-heart Pigeon and it conservation relevance on Panay, Philippines. Journal Fur Ornithologie, 139(1): 76-77.

Naether, C. 1973. Observing the Habits of Foreign Doves in Captivity. Avicultural Magazine, 79(2): 44-46.

Peterson, A., L. Ball, K. Brady. 2000. Distribution of the Birds of the Philippines: biogeography and conservation priorities. Bird Conservation International, 10(2): 149-167.

The Chaffee Zoo, Date Unknown. "Bleeding Heart Dove" (On-line). Accessed April 08, 2004 at

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. 1997. Gallicolumba luzonica. Pp. 179 in Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 4. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.