Blue-headed Quail-Dove Starnoenas cyanocephala


The Blue-headed Quail-dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala) is an endemic terrestrial dove found on the island of Cuba. It is a resident non-migratory species considered to be endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN 2010).
It is the only species in the monotypic genus Starnoenas. It co-occurs with three of its Geotrygon relatives (Geotrygon chrysia, G. montana & G. caniceps). It is the only quail-dove species in Cuba that is both endemic and considered to be endangered. It is a ground dwelling species mainly found on the ground walking through its evergreen and semi-deciduous forest habitat foraging for fruits and arthropods. If not on the ground it will occasionally be found on low perches calling for its mate or will fly up a short distance to flee a predator. Sexes are alike having a cinnamon color body and a white cheek stripe common in other quail-dove species, but are distinguished by a black eye line, cobalt blue head and black bib outlined in white. It is also set apart from other quail-doves by the hexagonal scales on the front part of its reddish legs. Juveniles are pale in color and lack the black eye line found in adults. Breeding pairs are socially monogamous and defend territories during the breeding season. Nests are usually located on tree trunks and made of loosely placed twigs lined with freshly fallen leaves. Nesting data however remains deficient. Blue-headed Quail-doves have been seen in pairs or groups during the dry winter months and have been seen near water sources either in forest interiors or in urban gardens. It is believed that the blue-headed Quail-dove once roamed much of Cuba but with less than 20% of Cubas forests remaining, its restricted range and anthropogenic pressures make this species a conservation priority.

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© George B. Reynard

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Blue-headed Quail-Dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: