Take a look at the Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera), and you might mistake it for just another run-of-the-mill native bird. Its pale feathers and short wingspan don’t make it stand out among other species in the area. The true nature of this little bird lies in its name, which can be translated to mean shining bronze in German.
Found in forests, woodlands and gardens throughout Australia, these pigeons are fairly common. Unfortunately, they’re considered to be at risk of becoming endangered due to reduced numbers caused by habitat loss. And while they may be timid around humans, they are otherwise free-ranging birds that will fly up into trees when disturbed and even make nests out of disused beetle holes in trees.
Also known as ‘Clarence River’ or ‘Blue Mountain’ pigeons, they are part of a group called Capped Pigeons. They have bright chestnut wings and dark eyes with an orange cap on their head that is revealed when they open their beak in flight. But one thing you might not know about these birds is that even though they look like typical pigeons, there’s nothing common about them at all!
Despite their adorable looks, they are actually rather shy birds. They live in pairs or small flocks and will spend most of their time quietly perched high in trees to avoid any potential predators that might want to catch them. If they do feel threatened, they’ll take flight quickly, but only get as far as a nearby branch or similar safe place before stopping to rest.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Female Bronzewings produce a single egg once per year, which she will incubate for about 28 days. Once it’s out of its shell, she’ll take to roosting and rearing it entirely on her own. Young birds typically leave home at two months old.
Its distinguishing feature is its wings which have patches of yellow on them, as well as an orange beak and dark eyes. This combination means it’s known for both its vibrant appearance and for being relatively easy to spot against any tree backdrop.
While numbers are difficult to establish due to their timid nature, it is estimated that populations in most areas have declined by over 50% since European settlement. Increased urbanization and agricultural land use has destroyed much of their natural habitat, leaving very few safe spots for them to live. A long time ago they inhabited every part of Australia but have been pushed out by human development.
Although they’re timid, Bronzewings are incredibly social and form small flocks when they move to higher altitudes in search of food. These lovely birds are happy to come down and hang out if you’re quiet and don’t do anything sudden (like go for a walk!). But get too close or make any sudden movements, and these birds will dart away.
Each male Bronzewing has its own display area, where it can show off for any females. They only move into each other’s territories when ready to mate and have actually been known to fight over mates. So you could say they’re pretty territorial!