Nicobar Pigeons are the closest living relative to the famously extinct Dodo birds. These colorful birds range from the Indian island of Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal, part of the northern range of the Malay archipelago to Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sumatra and parts of the Philippines. Nicobar Pigeons travel in flocks from island to island throughout their range in search of seeds, fruit, and buds. They are seldom seen at night as they often roost on offshore islands to avoid predators, then move to areas where food is more plentiful to forage during the day. Adults of the species develop a white patch on their tails, this serves to identify adults from juveniles and which birds are mature and knowledgeable enough to follow during island to island flights.
Nicobar Pigeons are hunted for meat, their iridescent plumage, and their gizzard stones, they are protected by the conservation agreement CITES and are therefor not found in the legal pet trade. Their gizzard stones or gastroliths are used for jewelry. The birds ingest the stones to help crush seeds and grains in the muscular gizzard as they do not have teeth to grind their food. The stones are polished in a similar way to rock tumblers making them smooth and polished. Gastroliths are common in herbivorous birds as well as alligators, crocodiles, seals and sea lions who ingest the stones to function as ballast.
This bird was photographed at the Jarong Bird Park on the northern end of the island nation of Singapore as part of a captive breeding project. The bird park and it’s sister park the Singapore Zoo are beautiful examples of zoos that blend seamlessly with their environment and are not to missed by zoo aficionados who find themselves in Singapore.