Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)

Least Concern

Slender-billed Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia amboinensis)


French: Phasianelle d’Amboine German: Kuckuckstaube Spanish: Tórtola cuco pechirrosa

Columba amboinensis


, 1766,



Closely related to M. rufipennis, M. emiliana, M. tenuirostris, M. magna and M. phasianella, and all six sometimes considered conspecific; present species normally considered to be closest to M. magna and M. phasianella; further studies required in order to clarify precise relationships within this complex. Vocal and morphological differences within present species, as constituted herein, suggest that more than one species may be involved. Conversely, validity of some races, notably kerstingi, has been questioned; races kerstingi and goldiei sometimes merged into cinereiceps; birds of Sula Is sometimes separated as race sedecima, but doubtfully distinct; delimitation of subspecific ranges also unclear in several cases. For birds of N Moluccas, older name albiceps has priority over batchianensis#R. Eighteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. sanghirensis Salvadori, 1878 – Talaud Is and Sangihe Is (Salibabu, Sangihe, Siau, Tahulandang, Ruang).
  • M. a. albicapilla Bonaparte, 1854 – Sulawesi and islands off NE (Manadotua, Manterawu, Bangka, Lembeh) and SE (Muna, Butung, Tukangbesi Is), Banggai Is (Peleng) and Sula Is.
  • M. a. atrata Ripley, 1941 – Togian Is (off EC Sulawesi).
  • M. a. albiceps Bonaparte, 1856 – N Moluccas, on Morotai, Halmahera, Bacan, Obi, Kasiruta, Kayoa and Ternate.
  • M. a. amboinensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – C Moluccas, on Buru, Seram, Ambon and Seram Laut.
  • M. a. keyensis Salvadori, 1876 – Kai Is (SE Moluccas).
  • M. a. doreya Bonaparte, 1854 – W Papuan Is (Waigeo, Misool, Kofiao, Salawati, Batanta) and NW New Guinea E to Geelvink Bay.
  • M. a. maforensis Salvadori, 1878 – Numfor I (Geelvink Bay).
  • M. a. griseinucha Salvadori, 1876 – Mios Num I (Geelvink Bay).
  • M. a. balim Rand, 1941 – Balim Valley (West Papua).
  • M. a. kerstingi Reichenow, 1897 – Yapen I (Geelvink Bay) and N coast of New Guinea from Mamberamo to Astrolabe Bay.
  • M. a. goldiei Salvadori, 1893 – S coast of SE New Guinea from Merauke region to Milne Bay.
  • M. a. meeki Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1915 – Manam I, off NE New Guinea.
  • M. a. admiralitatis Mayr, 1937 – Admiralty Is (Bismarck Archipelago).
  • M. a. carteretia Bonaparte, 1854 – Bismarck Archipelago (except Admiralty Is and New Hanover).
  • M. a. hueskeri Neumann, 1922 – New Hanover.
  • M. a. cinereiceps Tristram, 1889 – D’Entrecasteaux Is (Goodenough and Fergusson).
  • M. a. cunctata E. J. O. Hartert, 1899 – Louisiade Archipelago (Misima, Tagula and Rossel).
  • Descriptive notes

    34–37 cm; 107–179 g. Forehead and face dark orange-brown becoming reddish brown on crown; upperparts mostly reddish brown, darkest on wing-coverts which are... read more


    Two distinct calls reported: in Papua New Guinea, New Britain and on Manus I, utters a monotonously... read more


    Inhabits forest edge in gallery woodland, isolated tree groups in grassland, forest, second growth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small fruits, seeds (in New Guinea including Macaranga sp., Symplocus sp., Euodia sp.) and nuts comprise diet;... read more


    Little data available on seasonality, but perhaps breeds year-round; nest with egg in late Dec on Togian Is, pair observed displaying in... read more


    No information.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Recently (Dec 2000) discovered on Lesser Sundas, on island of Adonara; race unknown. Race sanghirensis is common on Siau and Sangihe Is, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Slender-billed Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia amboinensis). 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 23 January 2020).