- History and Culture
Nesoenas mayeri commonly known as the Mauritius pink pigeon, is a large pigeon measuring 36 to 38 centimeters. The male of the species is slightly larger than the female and weighs 315 g compared to 291 g. Its face, forehead and head are of a whitish pink colour while its body and underside are pinkish grey. Its back and wings are of a dark brown colour, and it has a rusty coloured tail and pink feet. Its beak is also dark pink with a white tip.
The pink pigeon dwells in the native forests, where it has a varied diet including native and exotic plants composed of buds, flowers, leaves, shoots, fruits and seeds. With no original natural predators, they exhibit ground feeding behaviour. Although theese birds may breed year-round, the typical breeding season is from August to September in the dry season. The pairs usually mate for life and develop a flimsy platform nest. They usually prefer native vegetation as opposed to introduced plants and trees for nesting, although in the 1990s the entire pink pigeon nested in a single grove in a Japanese red cedar. The clutch is sized usually for 2 eggs and incubation lasts two weeks, with males and females alternating turns during the day and night, respectively. In one breeding season, they may lay 5 to 10 eggs. After an initial period of 7 days on crop milk, chicks stay in the nest until they are around 7 weeks old. Males outnumber females, which leads to occasional male pairs building a nest together.
As with many other endemic birds, the Pink Pigeon has experienced significant decline due to predation and habitat loss which resulted in the bird being near extinction, with only 10 individuals left in the wild in 1990. It now survives in the forests of the South West of Mauritius and in Ile-aux-Aigrettes, where it has been successfully re-introduced.
The pink pigeon is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN List of Threatened Species. It has suffered from a severe loss of habitat combined with predation of nests by the crab-eating macaque, mongoose, rats and feral cats. Exotic plants also affect the quality of its foraging habitat: for example, the invasion of the strawberry guava limits the birds ground feeding. These plants also affect the pink pigeon’s breeding.
Habitat conservation provided through the establishment of Conservation Management Areas done by the National Parks and Conservation Service and a captivebreeding and reintroduction programme spearheaded by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the control of introduced predators, supplementary feeding, nest guarding, clutch and brood manipulations, control and monitoring of diseases are some of the most important measures still undertaken to enable the pink pigeon to survive. The survival of the pink pigeon, with a population of between 370 and 380 in 2013 is still dependent upon intensive management and conservation interventions.
There were just 10 individuals left in the wild in 1990.
Female birds constantly produce eggs even when they are not fertilized, just like domesticated chickens.