#162 Sulu Bleeding-heart

Critically Endangered

Bleeding-heart doves are really quite beautiful. This kind is listed as critically endangered, but unfortunately could well be extinct. They are endemic to Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines (and little islets near Tawi-Tawi). There were 2 specimens collected in 1891 (by collected, it seems to be the typical "kill them and then wonder if that was the last of the species later"), both male. There were unconfirmed sightings by locals in 1995, but they have not been seen since. In fact extensive surveys have been conducted multiple times and they have not found any. It seems they may have been fairly common until the 1970's. Now, even asking the natives of the area, hunters, and trappers, there aren't even people who are familiar with the bird. They are mostly a ground dwelling lazy sort of bird, only going into the trees to roost and mate. They prefer to run from danger rather than fly. Unfortunately most of the Tawi-Tawi forests have been cleared and there was even talk of replacing what forests are left with palm oil plantations. There are also no protected areas for them, so not much hope unfortunately it sounds like.

There are no pictures of live ones obviously. In fact all I could find is a photo of one of the 2 specimens. Its head is not attached where it should be, seemingly they just keep it resting at its feet. I found another picture of just the head. There were no eyes, and none of the descriptions I read included eye colour. I looked at a lot of other bleeding-heart doves and decided to go with what seemed fairly common, a sort of lavender almost. I've been trying not to share other images than what I paint or have photographed, but I thought it would be good to share what it is I work from much of the time. I did not take this picture, it is © Anand Krishnan/Smithsonian Institution. I've linked to the site where I found it. The colours are quite degraded from the look of it, which happens to specimens that are over 100 years old. I based the colours I did off the written descriptions I found. They said it was a vibrant green and then the scapular feathers are a chestnut brown but iridescent and can look green, violet, or lilac. I would truly love to see some photos of live ones, or even better be able to see them in person. They must be absolutely stunning.

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