Nicobar Pigeons – Some Interesting and Fun Facts

True to the Nicobar Islands, South East Asia, and Oceania, the Nicobar Pigeons is one of the largest pigeons within its genus.

Unlike other pigeons, the Nicobar Pigeon has a majestic plumage, iridescent colors, and a comparatively introverted nature.

Here’s a guide on everything you need to know about the Nicobar Pigeon, so keep reading.

Largest in the Family

The Nicobar Pigeon is one of the largest pigeon species, measuring up to 16 inches and weighing almost one pound!

They are also called Vulturine, Hackled, or White-tailed Pigeon because of its oddly large size and prominent features such as their bright whitetails.

Tropical Lover

The Nicobar Pigeon is mostly found in tropical climates. They origin from South Asia, South East Asia, and Oceania.

You are most likely to find them in small islands or coastal regions, such as the Nicobar Islands, India, Palau, Solomons, etc.

They tend to inhabit rainforests, mangrove forests, shrublands and are fonder of the ground than being up high.

Big on Travelling

The Nicobar Pigeons are big travelers and follow a nomadic lifestyle. They travel around in flocks from one island to another.

Moreover, these majestic birds are not known for catching flight like a normal flock. They tend to fly in a single file or a column-like pattern when flying together.

Tails Act as Markers

The Nicobar Pigeons have very distinct plumages but what makes them stand out the most is their bright whitetails.

Not only is their white tail pretty, but it also comes in handy when they are in flight.

When flying, the Nicobar Pigeon’s whitetail acts as a reflective tail light. It helps keep the flock together and locate each other in case they get lost.

Since the Nicobar Pigeons fly in columns or singular files, their white tails help guide them while crossing the sea at dusk or dawn.

Stomachs Strong as Ever

Another fascinating fact about the Nicobar Pigeons is that they have extremely strong beaks and stomachs.

They are known for their powerful gizzards that help digest difficult foods like mid and large-sized nuts.

They have the special ability to chew up nuts that humans are incapable of unless they use a hammer.

Nicobar Pigeons do so by collecting seeds and nuts from drylands or grounds while also trying their best to stay away from humans and predators as much as possible.

So, if you search for a nutcracker – you may want to consider a Nicobar Pigeon.

Not Human Friendly

The Nicobar Pigeon is a shy bird that prefers to live on its own within its flock but away from predators or human interference.

This is why they are mostly found in small islands or tropical rainforests very far from any civilization.

Although research suggests  Nicobar Pigeons are shy.

However, when they are kept in captivity in the wild, Nicobar Pigeons tend to be extremely friendly and social.

Strictly Herbivores

The Nicobar Pigeon belongs to the herbivorous avian category. Their diet consists of fruits, buds, seeds, grains, etc.

They are the most active from dawn to dusk and prefer munching during the daytime.

Even if you somehow end up getting a Nicobar Pigeon as a pet or in captivity, you must ensure they get a balanced diet to live a healthy life.

Babies in Black

While one of the most prominent features in the Nicobar Pigeon is its shiny whitetail, most people are not aware that their hatchlings do not have whitetails.

Young Nicobar Pigeons have black tails until they fully mature into adult birds. This makes them easily identifiable when in a flock.

However, this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. While you can identify the young by the color of their tails, it also means they are easy to hunt.

Monogamous Families

The Nicobar Pigeons are truly representing family goals! While they live together in large flocks, the Nicobar Pigeons are monogamous birds and have only one partner for life.

The male and female Nicobar Pigeon distribute their nesting duties and build a perfect nuclear family.

Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork

The mating period of Nicobar Pigeons begins in January and usually lasts until March. 

The pair begins nesting in March in far-off islands or large colonies.

The male birds gather loose sticks and other material for the nest while the female builds an appropriate setting to lay her eggs.

The female then typically lays one or maybe two slightly blue-tinted eggs, and both parents take turns incubating it for a total period of 2.5 weeks.

The Eyes, They Never Lie

As the famous movie quote says, “the eyes chico, they never lie.”

You can easily distinguish the Nicobar Pigeon’s gender based on the color of its iris. The male has brown eyes while the female has a white-colored iris.

Guess you have to take a peek into their eyes for gender-related queries.

No Sipping

Unlike other birds, the Nicobar Pigeon does not sip water. Instead, they gulp or suck up the water by collecting it in their beaks.

Quite similar to the way humans drink with the help of a straw. Did you know?

Pretty much all pigeons suck up water instead of having to look up and swallow like other birds.

Hunted for Jewels

The main reason behind Nicobar Pigeon’s strong stomach is their incredible gizzard stone.

Their gizzard is what allows them to digest and chew on unbreakable nuts.

The Nicobar Pigeon is hunted down for its gizzard stone, , which is retrieved and used for making jewelry.

Near Extinction Species

The Nicobar Pigeon has been under the radar for quite some time. They are largely hunted down for their meat.

Due to its exotic appearance, the pigeon finds itself in local pet markets being sold illegally or kept captive in zoos for display.

All of these factors contributed to the decreasing population of the Nicobar Pigeons.

Habitat at Risk

With the rise in urbanization, the Nicobar Pigeon’s nesting areas have been at risk.

Since they build nests in far-of-far-off areas with little to no human intervention, the increase in tourism has greatly disadvantaged them.

These small islands have mostly been victims of civilization as they are being used for development, threatened by pollution, etc.

Pig-like Grunts 

The Nicobar Pigeons are not known to be extra loud, generally.

However, their typical calling sound is a soft coo which may be repeated several times by the male during the mating period.

However, whenever a Nicobar Pigeon feels threatened or senses any danger, they exhibit this pig-like grunt to scare away predators or potential threats.

The Last Caloenas

The Nicobar Pigeon is one of the last species from the Caloenas genus.

Due to this classification, the bird is usually considered a relative of the extinct Dodo bird.

While this is widely known, many studies have found that it may not be that accurate. The classification is based upon a limited population sample. 

Now in Australia

Somewhere around 2017, a Nicobar Pigeon was spotted in Australia as well.

However, due to biosecurity guidelines, the bird was immediately reported back to quarantine services and removed from the location as an attempt of conservation.

Prey to Rats and Cats

Nicobar Pigeons often fall victim to their predators. While this bird tries its best to stay away from all kinds of predators, it is still widely at risk with animals such as rats and cats.

Predators such as cats or even rats can end up attacking a large number of the birds because of their colonial behaviors and extremely large flocks.

Do Not Live Too Long

The average Nicobar Pigeon can live up to 8-15 years in the wild, a below-average lifespan.

However, in captivity, the Nicobar Pigeon has been reported to live up to 12-15 years if dealt with properly and given proper care.

Iridescent Coloring 

Known for its colorful plumage, the Nicobar Pigeon is a sight to behold!

With their bright and iridescent features, they are covered in dark green feathers throughout the back and then take on a slight sheen.

Victim to Breeding

Given the reducing number of Nicobar Pigeons and Near Extinct titles, tropical birds usually fall prey to breeders.

These birds are kept in captivity and used purely for breeding purposes to supply them off to zoos and other display areas.

Since the Nicobar is not fit for captivity, they end up either getting seriously ill or living a comparatively shorter life otherwise.

As a result of this, there is a huge decline in their population overall.

Final Words

We have managed to reach the end of this article. If you are still here, then you should be a Nicobar Pigeon expert by now! With their iridescent plumages and shiny tails, they have left us stunned.

These creatures have it all figured out, whether it is aloofness, monogamy, or building a balance between the land and air life.

While their species are currently under threat, we hope that appropriate conservation measures are taken to save Nicobar Pigeons from extinction.

Stay tuned to this space for more informational blogs and bird-watching guides.

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