Mamburao Occidental Mindoro, PhilippinesMamburao Occidental Mindoro, PhilippinesMamburao Occidental Mindoro, Philippines

Bleeding Heart Pigeon

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A Bleeding-heart is a pigeon, so called because of a distinct red or orange marking on its breast that looks like it is bleeding. It may be Mother Nature’s sense of humor that stained these birds with target shooting marks, but these awesome patches make them special from all other colorful birds. The distinct patch slightly varies in shape and color among species of Bleeding-hearts. For the Mindoro Bleeding-heart, it is orange and relatively elongated. Unlike many birds, the males and females of this species look the same.

Found only in Mindoro, a 9,826-square kilometer island southwest of mainland Luzon, the Mindoro Bleeding-heart is known as Kulo-kulo or Labikong to the Mangyans, the indigenous peoples living in Mindoro’s forests. The bird also goes by the local names La-do, Manatad, Manuk-manuk, Punay, and Puñalada. Although similar in habits to its cousin, the Common Emerald-dove (Chalcophaps indica), its calls and appearance are different.


The Mindoro Bleeding-heart likes the shady, relatively gentle slopes of lowland primary and secondary forests. It has not been found in elevation of more than 1,000 meters.

In Sablayan, the largest tract of lowland forest in the area, the Mindoro Bleeding-heart was observed in an open area on the forest floor, in a bamboo thicket, near a pool in dry riverbed, and on shady, level forest with few rocky outcrops. All of these sites were surrounded closed-canopy forest. In Pakyas, Victoria, it was observed at plantations forest adjacent to closed canopy second-growth forest. There are unconfirmed reports that these birds are in other forested areas in Mindoro as well.


This terrestrial bird is plump and does not fly very high. In fact, it spends most of its life on the ground, in the thick and shady under storey of primary and secondary forests. This is where it lives and feeds, perching on low branches on trees only when roosting or breeding, or when disturbed. It is very sensitive to people, and the slightest noise will drive it away. Easily overlooked on the ground, they are usually long gone before their presence is discovered. Thus, biologists have a hard time looking for this bird despite its colorful plumage and relatively sedentary lifestyle. However once one is found, there are likely to be many other blending-hearts in the area.

Food for the Mindoro Bleeding-heart comprise of fallen seeds, grains or berries and the occasional invertebrate such as worms. They forage on the forest floor, sometimes with other pigeons and doves. Only ones was it seen feeding above ground when it was feasting on the fruits of Balete tree.
The Mindoro bleeding-heart nest in tree ferns, palms, tangles of vine, and lower branches of low trees, usually two meters or more above the ground. Their nests are made of stick, dried leaves, vines, tendrils and rootlets. They breed between February and June, laying only two light cream-colored eggs at a time.


Although this bird seems to be all throughout the low land forest of Mindoro, its population is very low. This is attributed to the lost of its habitat due to logging and forest clearing for agriculture. Another cause for its declining is hunting; wich was rampant during the 90’s. The locals at that time thought that the only endangered animal was the popular Tamaraw, and therefore it was spared from hunting. Today, air rifles, spears, slingshots and indigenous traps and snares are  still used to capture the Mindoro Bleeding-heart, either for food or to sell as pets. Disturbance of the forest undergrowth by activities such as rattan collection, selective logging of large trees, mining and quarrying also bother these birds. 


The Mindoro Bleeding-heart belongs to the Family Columbidae along with other pigeons and doves. It belongs to the genus Gallicolumba, or Bleeding-hearts, of which there are 11 known in the world. These are found in Sulawesi, Lesser Sundas, New Guinea and some islands in Southwest Pacific. The Philippines is lucky to have five, but these are fast disappearing!
The Mindoro Bleeding-heart is considered Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning, there are only about 500 individuals left, and it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction, possibly within  the next five years, unless we do something about it.
Our other Bleeding-heart are threatened as well. They are found in Tawi-tawi (Gallicolumba menagei); Negros and Panay (Gallicolumba keayi); Luzon, Polilllo and Catandanues (Gallicolumba luzonica); and in Mindanao, Dinagat, Basilan, Samar, Leyte, and Bohol (Gallicolumba criniger).


The Mindanao Bleeding-heart is not just a pretty ornament in our forests, they actually play a role in forest regeneration through the dispersal of seeds of the trees they feed on. They are an important link in the web of life, and as such, we should not let them go extinct.

Researchers from the Hariborn Foundation have been combing the forests of Sablayan in search for the Mindanao Bleeding-heart and have been rewarded when a nest was found in Mt. Siburan. They have been observing this nest to study breeding behavior. They are also studying what kind of habitat is suitable for this particular bird so that measures can be taken to properly conserve this species. Given this information, the community residing within the forest area, together with their local government, could best determine and implement a plan of action towards the protection of the Mindoro Bleeding-heart.

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