Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Little Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia ruficeps)


French: Phasianelle à tête rousse German: Kleine Kuckuckstaube Spanish: Tórtola cuco chica
Other common names: Lesser Red Cuckoo-dove

Columba ruficeps


, 1835,



Closely related to M. nigrirostris and M. mackinlayi. Birds of Pantar, Alor and Timor have distinct call, and may represent an undescribed species#R. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. r. assimilis A. O. Hume, 1874 – E & S Myanmar (S Shan States and Kayah S to Tenasserim) and SC China (S Yunnan) to W, NW & NE Thailand.
  • M. r. engelbachi Delacour, 1928 – NW Vietnam (W Tonkin) and N Laos.
  • M. r. malayana Chasen & Kloss, 1931 – Peninsular Malaysia.
  • M. r. simalurensis Richmond, 1902 – Simeulue (off NW Sumatra).
  • M. r. sumatrana Robinson & Kloss, 1919 – Sumatra.
  • M. r. nana Stresemann, 1913 – Borneo, including Sibatik I.
  • M. r. ruficeps#R (Temminck, 1835) – Java and Bali.
  • M. r. orientalis E. J. O. Hartert, 1896 – Lesser Sundas, on Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Pantar, Alor and Timor.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–30 cm; 74–88 g. A reddish-brown pigeon, darkest above and palest on head and belly; mantle, back and wing-coverts reddish brown with redder and lighter fringes... read more


    Most common vocalization is a rapidly repeated rising whistle preceded by a lower-pitched purr... read more


    Lower montane and hill forests, light woodland and lightly wooded cultivation in Borneo, Sumatra... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes berries, seeds, rice and chillies. Feeds on ground or in trees, where typically forages in the middle storey or lower canopy. Flocks... read more


    Data on seasonality limited: nests in Jan–Feb, May–Aug and Oct in Malaysia; Feb–Mar and Jul–Aug in Borneo; 1 nest... read more


    Resident throughout much of range but performs localized feeding movements, e.g. in Malaysia, where... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widely distributed and generally common to locally abundant throughout much of SE Asia, the Greater and Lesser Sundas; common at Fraser's Hill (... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Little Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia ruficeps). 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 27 February 2020).