Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Brown Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia phasianella)


French: Phasianelle brune German: Maronentaube Spanish: Tórtola cuco parda
Other common names: Large Brown Cuckoo-dove

Columba phasianella


, 1821,

Sydney, New South Wales


Closely related to M. rufipennis, M. emiliana, M. tenuirostris, M. magna and M. amboinensis, and all six sometimes considered conspecific; various other combinations proposed with present species normally considered to be closest to M. magna and M. amboinensis; species limits poorly understood. Despite recent trend to unite present species with M. amboinensis#R#R#R, the split is maintained here on basis of significant differences in size, plumage and apparently voice; further study required on degree of convergence in N Australia (race quinkan) and of vocal distinctiveness of many subspecies within complex; whole complex may be in need of extensive revision. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. p. quinkan Schodde, 1989 – NE Australia (Cape York Peninsula S to Stewart R).
  • M. p. robinsoni Mathews, 1912 – Cooktown S to basin of Fitzroy R (CE Queensland).
  • M. p. phasianella (Temminck, 1821) – basin of Fitzroy R S to S New South Wales.
  • Descriptive notes

    39–45 cm; 150–240 g. Head, neck and underparts rufous brown, greyer on crown and nape; chin and narrow streak below eye cream-coloured; hindneck, sides of neck... read more


    Advertising call consists of a repeated two-note phrase, the first note short and faint, the second... read more


    Rain forest and wet sclerophyll forest, particularly at edges, in clearings and in early secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on fruit and seeds; important food plant families include Araliaceae, Solanaceae, Rutaceae, Dillenaceae, and Euphorbiaceae. In a... read more


    Extended breeding season, with apparent peak in local spring and early summer: of 26 nests with eggs in N New South Wales, 23 were found in... read more


    Appears to be locally nomadic. Regular changes in local numbers have been noted in response to food... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Remains common in areas where patches of rain forest remain, but also adapts readily to secondary forest, and not so seriously affected by habitat... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Brown Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia phasianella). 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 19 February 2020).