March 19, 2023
- as seen by -Leela Samaroo
When people think of pigeons, they tend to think of our urban neighbors, the rock pigeons (Columba livia), with their muted gray tones. Pigeons, belonging to the columbidae family, have over 300 species that can be found worldwide in all sizes and colors. The Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) flaunts its rainbow feathers for all to see (above).
The Nicobar pigeon is found on small islands and in coastal regions from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India east through the Malay Archipelago to the Solomons and Palau Island. At the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, our colony of Nicobar pigeons resides at the World of Birds.
This bird’s rainbow color is a result of light reflecting off the feather barbs (very fine filaments) at different angles to create different wavelengths of colors. Youngsters lack the feather structure and neck hackles that adults have, serving to keep them camouflaged from predators and remain out of courtship from others in the colony.
When I was an intern in the Ornithology Department at the zoo, I was tasked with creating nest platforms for a variety of species. It wasn’t until I installed some nests in their exhibit and saw them use it for the first time, that I fell in love with Nicobar pigeons.
Come by the World of Birds and enjoy the beauty of these and many other pigeon species.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Wild View is featuring posts by and about women and their contributions to science and conservation throughout March.