- Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove
 - Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove
 - Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove
 - Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove

Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia mackinlayi Scientific name definitions

Luis F. Baptista, Pepper W. Trail, H. M. Horblit, and Ernest Garcia
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated November 5, 2018

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27–31 cm; 87 g. Polymorphic in nominate race, with grey and rufous morphs. Rufous morph male is deep reddish brown all over, darkest on upperparts but lighter on head and neck; underparts with a tawny tinge; outer primaries and secondaries brownish black narrowly edged rufous; central rectrices dark brown, outer ones paler tipped greyish rufous with a broad black subterminal band; breast feathers bifurcate, black basally with red-brown tips, giving spotted appearance to breast; iris yellow, orange to red; bill black; feet and legs red. Grey morph male has dark grey upperparts with broad pale grey fringes to most feathers; head and underparts pale grey, forehead, throat and breast sometimes pale tawny silver; speckled grey or buffish grey throughout. Rufous morph female mostly yellow-brown with grey suffusion to neck and breast giving vermiculated appearance; grey morph female similar in colour to corresponding male, but has more conspicuous black bases to breast feathers; underparts with more noticeable buff tinge. Juvenile rufous morph similar to adult female but redder throughout with blackish barring; feathers of upperparts often with rufous tips and black subterminal spots. Juvenile grey morph mainly dark grey above, pale grey below with greyish buff tips and black subterminal bars to most feathers; crown and breast feathers blackish, tipped pale buffish grey. Other races monomorphic in coloration, resembling rufous morph nominate, but richer in colour. Race <em>arossi</em> rich chestnut red with purplish tinge to upperparts; female slightly paler than male, face and breast more golden rufous and breast more evidently spotted.

Systematics History

Editor's Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

Closely related to M. ruficeps and M. nigrirostris. Birds of Karkar I previously separated as race krakari [sic], but purported differences not supported by examination of skins (1); those of Bismarck Archipelago previously separated as race goodsoni (2). Three subspecies currently recognized.



Macropygia mackinlayi arossi Scientific name definitions

Karkar I (off NE New Guinea), Admiralty and St Matthias Is, Squally, Watom (off NE New Britain) and Witu Is, Talasea district of WC New Britain, and Solomon Is.


Macropygia mackinlayi mackinlayi Scientific name definitions

Santa Cruz Islands, Banks Group and Vanuatu


Editor's Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the 'Subspecies' article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


Inhabits second growth, clearings, gardens and disturbed areas in primary forest; occurs at middle levels and in the lower canopy. Principally a lowland species, commonest at 200–800 m in N Solomons, but occurs as high as 1500 m on Bougainville, up to 1000 m on Karkar Island and found at all levels (to 1595 m) on Kolombangara Island (3). Distribution markedly disjunct on smaller islands of Bismarck Archipelago, where present species and M. nigrirostris are invariably allopatric, with only one of the species occupying any particular island. Usually seen singly, in pairs or in small groups of up to 5–6 birds.


Suspected of being merely a vagrant to New Britain, where it is rare; also one sight record from mainland New Guinea in Jun 1973.

Diet and Foraging

Feeds on seeds and small fruits including, in Vanuatu, those of the introduced chilli bush (Capsicum fretescens) and Lantana shrubs, but also vegetable shoots. Usually feeds below the canopy in small trees, especially Parasponia, but will occasionally come to the ground to take food put out for domestic animals.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

A melodious, mellow, repeated, disyllabic ‘vo ku’, the first syllable higher-pitched than second (4).


Season Sept–Feb in Vanuatu. Nest is saucer-shaped platform of the typical pigeon structure in a palm, tree-fern, vine-tangle or epiphytic bird-nest fern, 3–6 m above ground; however, a nest of an unidentified cuckoo-dove found in Mar on Tuluman I (Admiralty Is), and considered to be this species, was located in a rock depression, in an elevated situation. Lays 1, occasionally 2 white eggs.

Not globally threatened. Considered to be fairly common on Karkar I; widespread but only locally common through the Solomons, although found to be common to abundant on Kolombangara I., where commonly seen singly or in groups of up to five or six individuals foraging in low fruiting trees including laurels (3). Fairly common though not numerous throughout most of Vanuatu, but rare on Aneityum. Receives partial protection under Vanuatu law, it being permissible to hunt the species only from April to June (inclusive).

Distribution of the Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove

Recommended Citation

Baptista, L. F., P. W. Trail, H. M. Horblit, and E. F. J. Garcia (2020). Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia mackinlayi), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.macdov1.01