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The Clarion \ January 15, 2020
The Nicobar Pigeon
By Solomon Turner
According to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo
and the World Wildlife Fund of India, these
resplendent birds are native to the tropical region
that includes the Islands of Nicobar, Indonesia
and New Guinea along with other islands in the
These eye-catching birds are classified as Near
Threatened according to the International Union
for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. They are
medium sized birds that are around 16 inches in
length and one pound in weight.
The male and female sex both have a grey
chest and head along with short, pure white tail
feathers. Their wings, back and neck feathers are
a vivid metallic coloration.
Around their neck, their feathers are long and
hair-like and form a distinctive mane. They have
hooked beaks and the males have a small black
knob at the base of their beak.
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Their behavior is nomadic as a result of their
island habitat. Generally, they are most active
at dawn and dusk when they commute between
forested islands devoid of human activity in
flocks of up to 85 birds. When they vocalize,
they “coo” like the pigeons we are accustomed to
in the States, but when they display aggression,
they grunt like pigs.
The males will court females for several days,
searching for their lifelong mates. The male will
bring a female nesting material and the female
will construct a simple primitive nest.
Both parents are involved with the incubation
process and care for the altricial young, lasting
around two months. One month for incubation
and another before the chick can care for itself
The mated pair will rear two clutches per year,
each clutch consisting of a single white egg.
Their lifespan in the wild is around 15 years
while in captivity they live for around eight to
Their diet consists of hard seeds and nuts, finit,
insects and com in the wild, and vegetables,
fruits, greens and pheasant grains when in
Conservation eflbrts are needed to ensure their
survival as their numbers are steadily declining.
This decline is due to the pet trade, logging and
other human activity on their native islands and
trapping for food and jewelry.
In addition to their normal characteristics
these birds have a special muscular gizzard that
allows them to eat nuts with very hard shells.
They drink, like all other pigeons, by sticking
their beaks into the water but do not tip their
head back to drink like most birds. These birds
are also closely related to the extinct Dodo bird.
Photo by Henri Haneveer
A Nicobar pigeon