Sclater's Crowned-pigeon Goura sclaterii


Justification of Red List category
This species is suspected of experiencing a moderately rapid ongoing decline in response to lowland forest loss and hunting. However, its population is probably large and large areas of its range remain intact. For these reasons it is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
There are no known population estimates for this poorly-known species, but its range contains more than 100,000 km2 of suitable forest; thus, the population is unlikely to be small. eBird (2022) suggest that, at least locally, it may be fairly common.

Trend justification
Loss and degradation of lowland forest through large-scale selective logging and the development of oil palm plantations are suspected to be driving a population decline in this species. In the 20 years to 2021, forest cover in this species' range was reduced by c.8% (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein), equivalent to a rate of c.12% over three generations (28.5 years; Bird et al. 2020). As a strictly forest-dependent species, this is thought to be the minimum rate of population reduction, since the species is likely to be impacted too by degradation, fragmentation and additive impacts of hunting. Moreover, it appears to have some predilection for riverine and alluvial forests which are more accessible to both loggers and hunters. Consequently, the species is suspected of declining continuously at a rate of 15-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

G. sclaterii occurs in the south-western lowlands of Papua New Guinea, mostly west of the Fly River, ranging west into the south-eastern lowlands of West Papua, Indonesia, to the Mimika River (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Gibbs et al. 2001)Although it is rare or extirpated around most villages, it is still locally common in remote regions of Papua and Western and Gulf Provinces in Papua New Guinea (Beehler et al. 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, 2000, I. Burrows in litt. 1994, P. Gregory in litt. 1994).


It inhabits undisturbed dry and flooded forest, often alluvial, in the lowlands to 500 m (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986). It feeds on the ground in small flocks of 2-10 birds (historically up to 30 birds [Ramsay 1879]) and roosts in trees. Captive birds start breeding from 15 months old, lay a single egg, and tend to the fledgling for some months after hatching (King and Nijboer 1994).


Lowland forests, particularly on the flat terrain favoured by this species, are threatened by logging and the development of oil palm plantations, and logging roads open up access to hunters (King and Nijboer 1994, I. Burrows in litt. 1994, P. Gregory in litt. 1994, B. Beehler in litt. 2012), as does oil and gas exploration (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, 2000). In the 20 years to 2021, forest cover in this species' range was reduced by c.8% (Global Forest Watch 2022, based on data from Hansen et al. [2013] and methods disclosed therein), equivalent to a rate of c.12% over three generations (28.5 years; Bird et al. 2020).
This large species is also hunted for meat and, to a lesser extent, for its feathers (Beehler 1985). It has become extirpated from the vicinity of some transmigration settlements in Papua where it had survived constant hunting from indigenous people (King and Nijboer 1994). However, the species is fairly difficult to hunt without a shotgun (which are essentially no longer available in New Guinea) as it flushes at considerable distance (c.40 m) and perches high in the middle-story, out of the reach of hunters with bows (B. Beehler in litt. 2012), although hunting hides are sometimes constructed at the base of suitable fruiting trees (I. Woxvold pers. comm. 2016). 

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It is protected by law in Papua New Guinea.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine population size and density. Assess hunting levels through discussion with local hunters. Investigate population trends through discussion with local hunters. Ascertain tolerance of logged forest. Monitor numbers traded. Establish more community-based conservation areas in lowlands. Enforce protection in uninhabited reserve areas. Launch public awareness programmes to reduce hunting. Utilise as a flagship species in ecotourism ventures.


66-73 cm. Huge, terrestrial pigeon with fan-like sagittal crest. Unpatterned pale grey crest and rich maroon underparts from throat to tail. Similar spp. Range adjoins three parapatric congeners, known to hybridise with at least two of these where their ranges meet: Victoria Crowned-pigeon G. victoria has white tips to crest and less maroon on lower breast, Western Crowned-pigeon G. cristata has plain grey underparts and maroon mantle and wing-coverts. This species was previously included within G. scheepmakeri, which has grey upper throat and wing coverts (maroon in G. sclaterii) and maroon lower belly (grey in G. sclaterii). Voice Foraging flocks communicate with quiet, resonating booms. Hints Usually only seen with the help of local guides in remote uninhabited areas.


Text account compilers
Berryman, A.

Beehler, B.M., Bird, J., Bishop, K.D., Burrows, I., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Gregory, P., Kula, G.R., Mahood, S., Martin, R., North, A., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., Stronach, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Woxvold, I.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Goura sclaterii. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/sclaters-crowned-pigeon-goura-sclaterii on 27/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 27/02/2024.