Wompoo fruit dove

 Ptilinopus magnificus

The Wompoo Fruit-dove is the largest Australian Fruit-dove measuring 35-45cm in length. It is perhaps the most beautiful of all the doves found in Australia, and both sexes are similar in plumage. The back and wings are green with a prominent yellow wing-bar. The species has rich purple plumage under its neck and on the chest and upper belly. The lower belly is yellow. The head is pale grey, the bill is orange-red with yellow tip and the iris is red-orange. Legs and feet are yellow green.    The most characteristic calls are a deep ‘wompoo’ .

Historically in Australia, the Wompoo Fruit-dove was found from the Illawarra district in NSW to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, however the most southerly populations have now disappeared, most likely due to habitat clearance. Currently in NSW, the species is distributed along the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range from the Queensland border south to the Hunter River The Wompoo Fruit-dove in NSW is mainly confined to the area from the Queensland border south to Coffs Harbour and the Dorrigo Plateau. The core breeding range occurs at mid to high elevation sites around the Mt Warning and Focal Peak shield volcanoes, although important breeding areas also occur in the Washpool- Chaelundi area and Dorrigo Plateau.

The Wompoo Fruit-dove is a frugivore, feeding on a variety of rainforest fruits. Often fruits are large and eaten whole. Most foraging is done high in the canopy, but they will also source food in the lower storeys of the forest or forage on the forest floor. The Wompoo Fruit-dove selectively forages on species that are more common in well-developed rainforest than in regrowth. Individual mature paddock trees such as figs may also be visited during fruiting.

The Wompoo Fruit-dove makes a significant contribution to ecological functioning in rainforests through their dispersal of the seeds of rainforest plants. Due to their relatively large gape, Wompoo Fruit-doves are particularly important to the dispersal of trees bearing fruit too large to be taken by other frugivorous species.

The main threat to the Wompoo Fruit-dove is the clearing and fragmentation of subtropical rainforest. Although much of the higher altitude breeding habitat for Wompoo Fruit-doves is now protected within conservation reserves, important patches of non-breeding lowland habitat are currently unreserved and hence remain vulnerable to clearing. The large-scale clearing of subtropical rainforest in NSW early last century destroyed much of the most productive habitat of Wompoo Fruit-doves and current populations are restricted due to the limited area of this resource. The species appears to be declining in northern NSW following this widespread rainforest clearing and fragmentation.

References:

Birds in Backyards

The NSW Scientific Committee determination of status (June 2010), DEC website