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Diet of the White-headed Pigeon Columba leucomela near Lismore, northern New South Wales: fruit, seeds, flower buds, bark and grit


Gut contents of 18 White-headed Pigeons Columba leucomela, found dead over a four-year period near Lismore in northern New South Wales, comprised fruits and seeds of the invasive plant Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora almost exclusively. Birds frequently ingested Melaleuca quinquenervia bark, which, as far as I am aware, constitutes the first record of consumption of bark in the Columbidae, prompting some interesting hypotheses. It is suggested that bark ingestion may counter potential adverse effects from a diet dominated by Camphor Laurel fruits and seeds, which are reputed to contain toxins. Incidental records of consumption of flower buds of indigenous plants and insects (the first such records for this species), and regular drinking from man-made structures such as roof guttering on buildings are detailed.

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