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Pink pigeon

Scientific name: Columba mayeri

Country: Mauritius

Continent: Africa

Diet: Fruits - frugivore, seeds - granivore, nuts - nucivore, leaves - folivore

Food & feeding: Herbivore

Habitats: Tropical rainforest, tropical dry forest

Conservation status: Endangered

Relatives: Dodo, bleeding-heart dove

Description: As the name suggests, this is a pigeon with a pink appearance, especially around the head. It is a similar size to a city pigeon, with shorter wings and a longer tail. They weigh around 350 grammes.

Lifestyle: Active during the day, pink pigeons feed in small flocks, in a few restricted areas of the island of Mauritius. They are a typical pigeon, swallowing seeds, buds, fruits and grinding them up in a muscular crop (the first part of their digestive system).

Family & friends: Pink pigeons tend to spend time in small flocks.

Keeping in touch: In flight, the birds utter a short hoo-hoo call. Males have a territorial call - a softer series of cooing notes.

Growing up: They breed as monogamous pairs, with a breeding season from December to September. Both birds help to build the nest, incubate the eggs and rear the young. One to two eggs are laid and hatch within 14 days. The young pigeons (called squabs) are ready to leave the nest after a further four weeks. The birds are found in small flocks.

Conservation news: The pink pigeon was once found all over the island of Mauritius. It is now restricted to the wet upland forests in the south-west corner. This very tame and vulnerable bird suffers from habitat destruction and from introduced predatory rats, monkeys,cats and especially mongooses. These birds were once classed as 'Critically Endangered'. A conservation breeding programme was started in the early 1980s, when the pink pigeon was the rarest pigeon in the world, with a wild population as low as 15 or 20. The breeding programme has released young into three different parts of the forest and the population has now risen to 300. Now the birds are listed as 'Endangered' - this is a huge improvement from 'Critically Endangered'. The European Endangered Species programme, which has been a spectacular success, will continue until the number of wild birds exceeds 500.

The captive population is seen as a vital back up to the wild population. We have one breeding pair at Bristol Zoo Gardens and they have successfully produced young.

The pink pigeon has suffered following the introduction of predatory mammals to its island, but sometimes introduced species can help native species. For example, the pink pigeon prefers to nest in introduced Japanese Cedar trees rather than native trees.