This Photo by JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/), CC BY-SA 4.0
The Wonga pigeon has been sited in the Mitta Valley along Lees Lane, Mitta north Road, up Scrubby creek and along Wombat Gully Road.
The Wonga Pigeon is a large plump, ground-dwelling pigeon with a small head, pale face, short broad wings, and a long tail. When seen from above the plumage of the Wonga pigeon is a drab grey. However, front on the bird appears to be wearing a white scarf wrapped around its neck and when viewed from below, its white underparts are attractively patterned with row upon row of dozens of tiny crescent shaped markings. The eyes are dark red brown with a pink eye ring and the feet and legs are deep pink to red. There is little difference between the male and the female birds.
The Wonga pigeon is found from southeast Queensland all the way down to Gippsland in Victoria. They are a ground dwelling pigeon that frequents dense forests and gullies, clearings such as picnic areas, walking tracks, carparks, and roadsides. These gorgeous pigeons are often observed foraging on the ground for seeds, fallen fruits, plant matter and the occasional insects.
These birds are sedentary in nature in that don’t move far beyond their territory. Wonga pigeons will develop life-long monogamous relationships and will defend their nest sites with a series of threatening displays, including clicking, bowing, and charging towards potential intruders!
Nests are built in large trees, usually high off the ground and are saucer-shaped platforms of twigs and sticks, lined with small twigs, vine tendrils and other soft plant materials. Both sexes incubate and feed the young. They use a special posture when sitting on the nest, keeping their patterned tail raised high and facing observers, whilst peering over their tail to keep an eye on potential threats. Adults feed their young by regurgitation and young birds will remain with the adults for some time after fledging but are fed less and less often.
The pigeon’s call is a long series of notes, quite high and rapid, ‘whoik, whoik’ and this is repeated at a constant pitch becoming quite monotonous. The pigeon is more often heard than seen but it produces explosive wing claps when disturbed and when it takes off. On landing it may lift its tail showing black flecked undertail -coverts. Its flight is short, straight, and fast.
Unfortunately, the Wonga pigeon is preyed upon by feral cats and foxes. Like many pigeon species during the 1900s they were also hunted for their meat and for sport. Today, they are a protected species and one of least concern. Although not endangered they are not common in our area.