The Nicobar pigeon has managed to fascinate people with its colorful exterior but has also been classified as a near-threatened species,
The dodo has been extinct for a long time, much before any of us were even born. We may have seen the bird in pictorial representations or in museums. The dodos have, however, left behind some part of them in birds that are still alive today. These relatives of the dodo are a threatened species and have a stunning iridescent plumage. Named after India’s Nicobar Islands, this bird is called Nicobar pigeon or the Caloenas nicobarica. Of course, they look nothing like a dodo and can even fly, unlike their flightless cousin. They look like a colorful version of the city pigeons.
They have the grey head of a pigeon and as the feathers move downwards and it seems like they are washed over with a rainbow with green, blue, and red predominating. The feathers are iridescent and have actually been something that has intrigued researchers for a long time. The Nicobar pigeon’s coloration is said to be more complex than simple pigmentation because two people looking at the same feather from different angles see completely different colors, according to Advanced Science News. It was found that the colors varied on account of the multiple layers of feather segments the light passed through.
The Nicobar pigeon is a native to islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its range also extends east from those islands across to Malaysia, Thailand, and the Solomon Islands. It was also spotted in the Australian mainland for the first time, which is more than 4,000 km from its native land. The Guardian reported that indigenous rangers working near Broome spotted a lone Nicobar pigeon. "Having grown up around here, and knowing all the birds that are around here, they could tell that this was not an Australian animal," Bardi Jawa men’s rangers coordinator Phillip “Bibido” McCarthy said.
The exact population of the bird is unknown but it has been classified as near threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list. Their population has also been seeing a downward trend. The main cause for this is said to be deforestation and the release of non-native predators like rats and cats to the islands where the birds are found. Conservation plans are being proposed to help conserve this beautiful bird. These plans include protecting known breeding islands from clearance for plantations.
The Nicobar pigeon is more special than just the rare surviving relative of the extinct dodo. A biological study of the bird can present us with many layers of scientific answers. Getting a better understanding of the Nicobar pigeon will also provide a better insight into the mechanics behind their feather coloration, which will also help inform the design of wavelength-selective filters, sensors, and nanophotonic devices.