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Crowned-Pigeons: Big, Beautiful, Threatened

On islands free of large predators, birds can evolve to be huge
© Dan Mongrain View Large

Imagine a pigeon the size of a Turkey Vulture or a Canada Goose! Meet the crowned-pigeon. Four species inhabit the large, equatorial island of New Guinea and a few smaller islands. Crowned-pigeons are forest birds and fruit-eaters, with iridescent purple chests and spectacular, tall, lacy crests.

This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Crowned-Pigeons: Big, Beautiful, Threatened

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote.

There are pigeons, and then there are PIGEONS. A city pigeon is about a foot long  - a pretty average size for a bird. But imagine a pigeon the size of a Turkey Vulture or a Canada Goose!

Meet the crowned-pigeon. [crowned-pigeon call] Standing on a low branch in a tropical forest is a glistening, blue-gray bird with an iridescent purple chest. The immense pigeon raises its crown feathers to form a spectacular, tall, lacy crest.

Crowned-pigeons are forest birds and fruit-eaters. Four species inhabit the large, equatorial island of New Guinea and a few smaller islands.

But why are these pigeons so big? On islands free of large predators, evolution has sometimes favored the development of super-sized birds. That was true of the moas of New Zealand and the Dodos of Mauritius.

But unlike moas and Dodos — which are both extinct— crowned-pigeons can fly, and they do so with a loud wing crack.

[Victoria Crowned-Pigeon wing sound, https://www.xeno-canto.org/40937 ]

Their ability to fly may be what has allowed crowned-pigeons to survive this long. They have shared New Guinea with humans for at least 40,000 years, and with care, we could share it with them for at least 40,000 more.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.

###
 
Bird sounds provided by the Xeno-canto Foundation. Recorded by Dwarf Koel XC 62497 and P Aberg XC 40937.
BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler; Managing Producer: Jason Saul; Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2019 Tune In to Nature.org   February 2019   Narrator: Michael Stein
 
ID#  crowned-pigeon-01-2019-02-22    crowned-pigeon-01

Some references:
http://www.arkive.org/victoria-crowned-pigeon/goura-victoria/
 
http://www.torontozoo.com/ExploretheZoo/AnimalDetails.asp?pg=640
 
https://www.google.com/amp/s/io9.gizmodo.com/island-gigantism-how-island...
 
The Song of the Dodo.  David Quammen, Scribner, 1996.

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