Common Bronzewing

Phaps chalcoptera

Male Common Bronzewing. Photo: Keven WIlliams

Bronzewings are often encountered when they burst unexpectedly from cover near to you. Less often they may be seen with throated extended uttering their repetitive ‘oom’ calls from high in the canopy. As a result, their beauty is often not fully appreciated. The iridescent panels in the wings are not merely bronze but range from pink through to various blues, greens and purple, even in a single panel, depending on the angle of light between the bird and the observer. Try Googling ‘bronzewing’ to see some marvellous photographs showing the range of colours they display.

Bronzewings feed mainly on seeds, whether from native plants, crops or weeds. Some vegetation is also eaten and occasionally insects.

Breeding occurs year-round with a peak in late spring and early summer. Like those of most doves and pigeons, the nest is a flimsy platform. A clutch normally consists of two cream-coloured eggs. Eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

Common Bronzewings are distinguished from Brush Bronzewings in being larger, having several rows of iridescent panels and being greyish overall rather than brown.


The overall appearance is of a plump, grey bird. In the male, the upperparts are olive-brown with buff edges to the feathers giving a scaled appearance. The underparts are grey, washed pink with a blue-grey band on the sides of the throat. The forehead is russet-cream. And the top of the head, purple-brown. The lores are dark brown stripes, bordered below by a white band, curving over the ear coverts and extending from the bill to the nape, and above, by a short white stripe extending from the bill to just behind the eye. The legs and feet are purple-pink. Females are like males but are distinguished by being smaller, having a grey forehead, less iridescence on the wing, and the underparts are a plainer grey without the pinkish wash or blue-grey bands on the throat. Juveniles are like adults but duller and lack the bronze patches and, in the male, lack the blue-grey stripes to the neck and the buff forehead.

Where to find it

Common Bronzewings are mainly sedentary, and may be found throughout South Australia, except for the driest deserts and in urban areas. They live in all wooded habitats, in scrub, on open plains and grassland and in modified habitats – gardens, farmland and along roadsides.