Nine Critically Endangered Pigeons and Doves
Doves and pigeons belong to the same family of birds called Columbidae within the order Columbiformes. Generally, they have stout bodies with short necks. They have slender bills with a fleshy operculum or swelling. There are around 300 species of this bird. The term “dove” is most commonly used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones.
These birds are some of the most common to humans as many of their populations are found in cities and human dwellings. Yet, some of their species faces extreme risk of extinction, known as being critically endangered. The IUCN or International Union for Conservation of Nature has identified nine species of these birds under this category. Here are the descriptions of the nine critically endangered pigeons and doves.
Purple-winged Ground Dove
The purple-winged ground dove is native to Atlantic forests. They are found near bamboo areas in south-eastern Brazil, far eastern Paraguay, and northern-eastern Argentina. It is approximately 19-23 cm in length. The male has slate-blue plumage which is paler below. It has whitish face and belly. The female, on the other hand, is matt brown with paler belly and throat.
Threats to the bird include habitat loss and wild bird trade. Currently, its population is estimated to be less than 250 individuals.
Blue-eyed Ground Dove
Endemic to Brazil, the blue-eyed ground dove lives in the subtropical or tropical dry lowland grasslands. It is 15.5 cm tall. It has bright brown head, neck, breast, rump, and wings. It has dark blue spots and pink feet. Its iris is blue, hence its name. The bird is threatened by habitat loss. Population is estimated from 50-249 individuals.
Also known as silvery wood-pigeon or grey wood-pigeon, the silvery pigeon was first thought to be extinct until photographs of it were taken in 2008 near Masokut Island in Indonesia. It lives in mangrove forests and other woodlands in the low-lying offshore islands and adjacent coastal regions. Its plumage is pale silvery grey, with black remiges (or flight feathers) and ends of the tail feathers.
Deforestation, especially removal of mangrove forests, and introduction of alien predators are thought to have threatened this bird. There is no exact estimate population of silvery pigeons.
Polynesian Ground Dove
As its name suggests, the Polynesian ground dove is native to French Polynesia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, plantations and rural gardens. It is 25 cm tall, medium-sized, and short-tailed. It has mostly dark grey plumage with white throat, chest, forehead, and eyebrow.
It has a very small population, fragmented into extremely small subpopulations, on tiny wooded islets. Its extinction from several islands indicates an overall decline, which is likely to continue owing to predation by rats and cats, habitat loss and deterioration, and natural disasters such as hurricanes and severe storms.
The Negros bleeding-heart is endemic to the Philippines, found particularly on the tropical rainforests in the islands of Negros and Panay. It is 25-30 cm tall. It is a ground-feeder but roosts and nests on bushes and vines. The name “bleeding-heart” comes from the patch of red feathers found on the breast of the bird. It is grey above and paler buff below.
The bird has an extremely small, severely fragmented population. Hunting and habitat loss have caused decline in its population.
The Sulu bleeding-heart is another critically endangered specie of ground dove endemic to the Philippines. It is approximately 30 cm tall. It is medium-sized and short-tailed, with bright orange central patch to otherwise white breast. It has dark grey forehead that merges into iridescent green nape and upper mantle.
The bird is known from two specimens collected in the Sulu Archipelago in 1891, and has not been recorded with certainty since. It may have declined severely through extensive logging and habitat destruction, compounded by hunting and trapping. Since there are reports of local sightings in 1995, it is unlikely to be extinct. However, any remaining population is likely to be tiny.
The Mindoro bleeding-heart is a type of ground dove native to Mindoro, Philippines. Like other birds in the Gallicolumba family, it has a bright orange (or red) central patch to otherwise white underpants. It is also medium-sized and short-tailed. It has dark grey crown, nape, upper mantle and breast sides. Its legs are red.
The bird has an extremely small, severely fragmented population which is undergoing a continuing decline owing to lowland forest destruction, combined with hunting and trade.
Originally known as the Pea dove or Well’s dove, the Granda Dove is a medium-sized New World tropical dive, endemic to the island of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It has white throat. Its face and forehead is pale pink to dull brown on crown and nape. Its neck and upper breast is pink-buff fading to white on lower breast, belly and undertail coverts.
Very little is known about the bird. The total population declined by approximately 50% between 1987-1990, numbering an estimated 100 individuals in 1998, and increasing to an estimated 180 individuals by 2003/2004. Threats to this bird are human activity, habitat loss, introduction of alien predators, and hunting.
Negros Fruit Dove
The Negros Fruit Dove in another critically endangered dove specie found on the islands of Negros, Philippines. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is only known by a single female specimen. It is a very small (around 16.5 cm) with vivid dark green fruit-dove. The sole specimen is characterized by extensive, broad, yellow eye-ring, ashy-grey forehead and grayish-white throat.
Actually, this bird may or may not be extinct since there have been no sightings of it since 1953. However, it may remain extant, given that there was an unconfirmed report in 2002. Further surveys are required on Panay where it may conceivably occur. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and undergoing a continuing decline owing to hunting and extensive habitat destruction.