Grey-headed Quail-dove Geotrygon caniceps


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable because its small population has suffered a rapid and continuing decline, mainly owing to hunting pressure and habitat loss.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Although there are no new data on this species, it is suspected to be in rapid decline, owing to heavy hunting pressure and ongoing habitat loss; forest loss within this species's range currently totals ~4.5% over three generations (Tracewski et al. 2016).

Distribution and population

Geotrygon caniceps has a limited distribution and is rare throughout Cuba, being most common on the Zapata Peninsula.


It favours humid lowland forests bordering swamps, but also inhabits drier, limestone-based forest and (at least in the Sierra del Rosario) mid-elevation montane forest (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000, Garrido et al. 2002). It feeds on seeds and small invertebrates, foraging on the ground and frequently along tracks, but may perch 10 m above the ground (Baptista et al. 1997).


The expansion of cacao, coffee and tobacco production seriously threatens suitable habitat in Cuba, and dry-season burning, drainage, agricultural expansion and introduced predators are severe problems in the Zapata Swamp (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Wells and Mitchell 1995). Forest loss within this species's range currently totals ~4.5% over three generations (Tracewski et al. 2016). It is heavily hunted for food, using drop-traps baited with orange seeds (Wells and Mitchell 1995).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
It occurs within a numbers of reserves in Cuba (including the Corral de Santo Tomás Faunal Refuge in the Zapata Swamp National Park area, Mil Cumbres (Area Protegida de Recursos Manejados) and the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve), but few are afforded strict protection (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation and research actions proposed
Survey to clarify the species's current status and determine the protected areas within which it occurs. Control dry season burning and draining. Enforce laws concerning hunting of the species. Devise and implement management plans for protected areas. Enforce protection of protected areas.


28 cm. Greyish dove with distinctive purplish sheen on back. Purplish mantle, blue rump, black tail, brown wings with orangish fringes to primaries, and greyish head with uniform, grey crown. Underparts greyish with warm ochraceous undertail. Similar spp. Only quail-dove in range without facial stripes and overall the least brown. Voice Continuous uup-uup-uup ... Hints Prefers moist areas with leaf-litter. Singly or in pairs, calls from perch rather than forest floor.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Everest, J.

Benstead, P., Capper, D., Kirkconnell, A., Latta, S., Mahood, S., Mitchell, A., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Wege, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Geotrygon caniceps. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022.