Closest Living Relative to the Dodo Bird Dazzles with Vibrant Iridescent Plumage


The dodo bird has been long extinct, but it still has relatives living in the world today. Known as the Nicobar pigeon, this rare creature is the closest living connection to the famous flightless bird, although the two don’t look alike. One striking difference is the Nicobar pigeon’s vibrant plumage that shines in iridescent blues, coppers, and greens—in addition to its reddish legs and small white tail. This colorful characteristic developed because of their location; the bird has long been isolated on small islands and lacked natural predators. Because there’s no need to conceal themselves, they were able to develop the brilliant feathers.

The Nicobar pigeon resides in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, from the Indian Nicobar Islands eastward to places like Thailand and Papua New Guinea. Although its exact population count is unclear, the species is in decline because of deforestation and the release of non-native predators (like rats and cats) to these islands. The Nicobar pigeon is now considered “near threatened” with conservation efforts proposed to help the birds thrive again.

Photo credit: Allen Chang
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