Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica)
This week I spent five hours photographing pigeon wings at the Burke Museum of Natural History at the University of Washington. Believe it or not, there are some gorgeous pigeons out there, but the Nicobar Pigeon stood out from all the rest. I mean, check out that iridescence! Males tend to be more shiny than females. And this individual had LOTS of shiny.
These stunningly beautiful pigeons are native to most of the Indo-Australasian Archipelago from the Nicobar Islands in the west to the Solomons in the east. They feed primarily on the ground where they eat seeds, fruits, and plant buds.
Nicobar Pigeons are believed to be the closest living relatives to the extinct Didines which included the odd, flightless Dodo and Rodrigues Solitaire. Due to a lack of DNA evidence however, scientists are still not very confident in these relationships. It seems likely that most pigeons and doves in this region are relatively closely related and diverged during an Indopacific radiation event which occurred some 50 million years ago.
To learn more about the intriguing evolutionary history of these breathtaking birds, check out this link.