Dodo bird relative at Taipei Zoo breeds after long hiatus
Large pigeons at the Taipei Zoo that are the closest living relative of the extinct dodo bird were confirmed recently to have successfully reproduced for the first time in four years, the zoo reported on Monday.
The zoo said the breeding patterns of the zoo’s Nicobar pigeons ( ) were disrupted when they moved to a smaller temporary habitat in 2012 while the main aviary was being renovated.
That remained the case even after the pigeons moved back to the new aviary, which was opened in 2013.
It was only in March this year that the zoo began observing the pigeons displaying signs of courtship and nest building, and it was not until July 30 that the zoo had visual confirmation that the eggs laid down this year had hatched.
At present, there are three such nests atop a tree above a pond, with female and male pigeons taking turns to hatch eggs and care for the young. The pi- geons are on watch for anything that approaches the nest, the zoo said.
Nicobar pigeons are generally monogamous. During a courtship that can last for days when the breeding season arrives, the male courts the female by frequent bowing and then starts collecting twigs and other materials to build nests.
The pigeon, originally found in Southeast Asia, has bright green feathers and the upper part of the dark bill forms a small blackish knob. It is the closest living relative of the dodo bird, which became extinct in the 16th century.
The Nicobar pigeon, measuring around 40 centimeters in length, is also listed as a species on the verge of extinction because of a shrinking habitat, human hunting and problems finding food.
The female pigeon can lay one or two oval eggs in the nest, and they take about 30 days to hatch.
Baby pigeons do not have protective feathers when they are born and rely completely on their parents to help them keep warm and be fed.
The baby starts to grow features after 10 days and has full metallic green feathers within in 70- 80 days, giving it independence even though it may remain in the nest for a certain period of time.
Nicobar pigeons are seen in this undated photo released by Taipei Zoo yesterday. The pigeons, the closest living relative of the extinct dodo bird, recently have successfully reproduced for the first time in four years.