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A photo of a Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica)
Nicobar Pigeon

Nicobar Pigeon

Caloenas nicobarica

The Nicobar pigeon, a large and resplendent bird, measures 40 cm in length. Its plumage is a tapestry of metallic green, with a head of soft grey transitioning to vibrant green and copper hackles. The tail, in stark contrast, is a pure white and notably short.

Identification Tips

Males are distinguished by their slightly larger size and more pronounced bill knob. Females, on the other hand, exhibit a smaller knob, shorter hackles, and a tendency towards browner underparts. Juveniles can be identified by their black tails and a near absence of iridescence. Across its range, the species shows little variation, with the exception of the Palau subspecies, which sports marginally shorter neck hackles.

Habitat

This species thrives in dense forests on secluded offshore islets, often forming large colonies.

Distribution

The Nicobar pigeon's range spans from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, through the Malay Archipelago, to New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Palau.

Behaviour

These pigeons are gregarious, moving in flocks from island to island, favoring predator-free offshore islets for roosting and foraging in human-inhabited areas during the day. They exhibit a swift and rhythmic flight pattern, often flying in single file or columns.

Song & Calls

The species is known for its low-pitched, repetitive calls.

Breeding

Nesting occurs in dense forest on offshore islets, where the birds construct a loose stick nest in a tree and lay a single, faintly blue-tinged white egg.

Similar Species

While the Nicobar pigeon is the sole living member of its genus, it shares a clade with other ground-dwelling island endemics within the Columbidae family.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists of seeds, fruit, and buds, with a particular attraction to grain. A gizzard stone aids in grinding up harder food items.

Conservation Status

The Nicobar pigeon is classified as Near Threatened due to hunting, habitat loss, and the introduction of predators to breeding sites. Despite being common in some areas, its long-term survival is under threat. International trade is prohibited as it is listed on CITES Appendix I.

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