Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)


Blue-headed Quail-dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala)


French: Colombe à tête bleue German: Kubataube Spanish: Paloma perdiz cubana
Other common names: Blue-headed Ground-pigeon, Blue-headed Partridge-dove

Columba cyanocephala


, 1758,

Jamaica (?)


Probably related to Geotrygon, and sometimes included within that genus. However, external morphology, anatomy and behavior appear to indicate that present species is extremely anomalous in comparison with all other New World genera of Columbidae and that it presents a mosaic of characters shared with various genera in Australasia, being perhaps most similar to the Australian genus Geophaps and related terrestrial pigeons#R. Monotypic.


Cuba; formerly also I of Pines. Also recorded in S Florida in past, but probably only as vagrant. Repeatedly introduced to Jamaica in the past, but never established there.

Descriptive notes

Male 29–34·5 cm, female 29–34 cm; 213–289 g. Forehead and crown bright blue bordered by black line from rictus to and behind eye, and joining on nape... read more


Song is series of short, hollow, disyllabic notes, “whooo-up” or “hoooo-up”, with distinct upward... read more


Mainly in undergrowth of lowland forest including wet swamps, occasionally in highlands up to at... read more

Food and feeding

Takes seeds, berries and snails, as well as insects, grubs and caterpillars; also invades pea plantations. Mostly terrestrial, feeding in... read more


Mainly Mar–Jun. Simple nest (dimensions 15–21 cm × 10–12 cm, depth 1·5 cm) of twigs lined with rootlets,... read more


No recent evidence of any movements, and assumed to be essentially resident. Reported from Florida... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Extirpated from I of Pines, where formerly occurred in Caballo Mts, although always rare. Population currently estimated at 600–1700 mature individuals... read more

Recommended citation

Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Blue-headed Quail-dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 10 December 2019).