Meet the closest living relative of the dodo bird

Even though the dodo bird has long been declared extinct, this avian ancestor still has living relatives. Even though they don’t look alike, the Nicobar pigeon is one of the closest living resemblances to the famous flightless bird. Colorful plumage and reddish legs are two noticeable differences between Nicobar pigeons and other birds of prey in the area. The bird’s isolation on small islands, free of natural predators, led to its colorful plumage. They could develop brilliant feathers because they don’t have to hide.

Its native range extends from the Indian Nicobar Islands eastward to places like Thailand and Papua New Guinea, where the Nicobar pigeon is common. Deforestation and the introduction of non-native predators (such as rats and cats) to these islands have both contributed to the species’ decline, though the exact number of individuals is unknown. Near-threatened status for the Nicobar pigeon has been declared, with conservation efforts planned to help the birds rebound.

Photo credit: Steve Wilson

Photo credit: Henri Haneveer

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