Closest Living Relative to the Dodo Bird Dazzles with Vibrant Iridescent Plumage

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Scientists have determined that long-extinct bird dodo belongs in the pigeon and dove family.  They proved that it still has relatives living in the world today, known as Nicobar pigeon, although the two don’t look alike.

Dodo bird was bigger than a turkey, weighed about 23 kg, with blue-gray plumage, and a big head. It had small useless wings, stout yellow legs, and a tuft of curly feathers high on its rear end.

Here are some interesting facts about the dodo bird:

  • It Lived on the Island of Mauritius
  • It Had No Predators Until Humans,
  • The Dodo Was ‘Secondarily Flightless’
  • The Dodo Bird Laid Only One Egg at a Time
  • The Dodo Bird Didn’t ‘Taste Like Chicken’
  • The Closest Relative Is the Nicobar Pigeon
  • The Dodo Was Once Called the ‘Wallowbird’
  • The Dodo Bird Is Mentioned in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’
  • It May Be Possible to Resurrect the Dodo

By comparing fragments of dodo DNA, scientists have shown that it shares enough of its genome with modern relatives, such as the Nicobar pigeon, to give surrogate parenting a chance.

The Nicobar pigeon is a much smaller flying bird that spreads across the South Pacific Ocean. Another relative, now extinct, was the Rodrigues solitaire, which occupied the Indian island ocean of Rodrigues and suffered the same fate as its more famous relative.

The Nicobar pigeon lives in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, from the Indian islands of Nicobar to the east to places like Thailand and Papua New Guinea. Although the exact number of its population is not known, this species of bird is in decline due to deforestation and the release on these islands of domestic predators (such as rats and cats). Currently, the Nicobar pigeon is considered an “almost endangered” species with conservation efforts proposed to help the birds thrive again.

Intriguing Facts About the Strikingly Beautiful Nicobar Pigeon

  • A Powerful Stomachs – due to the adaptations of these birds they have a very strong gizzard (the part of the stomach used for grinding food), which helps them feed on hard nuts that humans can eat only after hammering them.
  • Appearance
  • It has a sturdy body with a small head, a small white tail, and long legs and wings. The adults can grow up to 16 inches and will weigh about 1 pound, while the females can be heavier.
  • The feathers on the neck and the head are blue-gray, and the mane is covered with iridescent, purple-colored long hackles.
  • Their legs are purplish-red in color and have long yellow claws, while their hooked bills are black in color and have a black knob near the base.
  • Wing Pattern of pigeon
  • They have iridescent feathers in shades of green to blue with coppery and golden overtones.
  • Both, males and females have the same plumage but they can be distinguished easily because the male is larger than the female and has a brown iris, while the female has a white iris. Also, the males have a bigger knob on their bills.
  • Range, Habitat, and Diet
  • They prefer a habitat of small and wooded forests but are also seen near lowland forests and mangroves
  • These birds feed on different fruits, nuts, seeds, and some small insects.
  • Breeding
  • In the wild, they are bred in places where there is no human intervention
  • They are monogamous, and therefore a couple for life. The season begins with courtship, where the men bow and show off their great splendor. The courtship period can last several days.
  • Cultivation can be all year round. The male is responsible for selecting the nesting site and collecting the necessary materials. and the female then stacks them. They make simple nests using only some twigs and dry leaves, just to allow the egg to drop. Nests are built on trees, but not very far from the ground and can be used as bait for other flock members to build nests on the same tree.
  • The female lays only one egg, which is elliptical in shape and white with bluish hues.
  • Both parents participate in the incubation of eggs, alternating between 3 and 4 weeks.
  • The chick is dependent on their parents and they become independent after a month, but they decide to stay in the nest for some time. Minors up to the age of two have a dark tail and later get an adult white tail.
  • After the first chick is 40 days old, the mother can put another clutch
  • Their lifespan in nature is 8-12 years and in captivity 10-15 years.

Good to know about the Nicobar Pigeon

  • They travel in large flocks, almost up to 85 birds.
  • They spend time looking for seeds, berries, and insects in the forests.
  • They don’t mind the human presence,
  • At night they like to migrate to the desert islands.
  • Their white tail is noticeable when they fly and serve as a guide, for flying, even in the dark.
  • They have the ability to suck water (as we do from straw).
  • They are known for holding an upright stronghold, especially males in courtship or, sometimes, in aggression.
  • They are not very vocal birds, but they emit a sound similar to the sound of a grunting pig, in order to scare and threaten predators.

Sources:

www.britannica.com

www.thoughtco.com

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