The world’s largest member of the pigeon family, a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, recently hatched at Chester Zoo.
According to the Zoo, the newly fledged little bird is now bright blue, rocks the best mowhawk, and can be seen strutting its stuff! When fully grown, the chick will be similar in size to a turkey.
Native to Indonesia and New Guinea, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) is supposedly named after Queen Victoria who had a penchant for wearing elaborate, feathered headwear.
One of the closest living relatives of the now extinct Dodo, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is itself declining in the wild, largely due to habitat loss as its forest home is cleared to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations. It is also a bird that is prized by hunters and popular in the illegal pet trade, due to its beautiful appearance and spectacular plumage. As a result, it is a species listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Mark Vercoe, Assistant Curator of Birds, said, “Along with the Nicobar Pigeon and the Tooth-billed Pigeon, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is a descendant of the Dodo – a bird that has been famously lost from the planet because of the actions of humans.”
“This is something we don’t want to see a repeat of and it’s a lesson we really should learn from. Sadly, however, many bird species, including the likes of the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, are in trouble for many of the same reasons – human activity. Hopefully this chick can help us to highlight how important it is that we act for wildlife now; we cannot possibly let these beautiful birds go the same way as their extinct cousins.”
Victoria Crowned Pigeons are monogamous birds that pair for life. The male delivers sticks to the female, which they both then use to construct a nest. Both parents share in the incubation duties of just one egg.
Unlike most other species of bird, both parents also produce special milk, which is used to feed the chick in the first few weeks of its life and both will continue to care for the chick for up to three months after they fly the nest.