Dodo bird rel­a­tive at Taipei Zoo breeds af­ter long hia­tus

The China Post - - LOCAL -

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.

CNA

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.

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