Animals & Attractions

We are currently home to five Nicobar pigeons.

Location in the zoo

Our Nicobar pigeons can be found in our Brilliant Birds exhibit.

In the wild

The Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is the closest living relative to the dodo, however it looks very different from its flightless cousin. They are large, mainly ground-dwelling birds due to a lack of natural predators and isolation on small islands. As a result of this, Nicobar pigeons have developed a bright plumage, with dark green shimmering feathers on the body and a layer of pointed, greenish-blue feathers which have coppery overtones.

They are mainly found in South East Asia and the Pacific, from the Indian Nicobar Islands east towards Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. While it has a fairly wide distribution, then tend to more common on the smaller less disturbed islands.

The Nicobar pigeon tends to move around in flocks during the day, spending the majority of its time on the forest floor, looking for seeds, berries, large nuts, fruits and insects.

It is believed that the Nicobar pigeon mates for life and as a result the female lays a single white egg. Both adults incubate the egg and it hatches after around two and a half weeks later. The chick is initially helpless and fed a rich fluid, regurgitated by the adults called crop milk, who will continue to tend the chick until it fledges at about three months old.

Although the exact population size is unclear, it is thought to be undergoing a slow decline in numbers. This is the result of land clearance for plantations which has reduced breeding and foraging habitats for the birds. There has also been an increase in the number of non-native predators such as rats and cats. This has increased the effects of habitat loss as the Nicobar pigeon nest in large populations. Hunting and trapping for food and the pet trade has also reduced the populations.

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