The closest surviving relative to the dodo has successfully hatched a chick at Birdland Park and Gardens.
It’s the first time a Nicobar pigeon has been born at the Bourton-on-the-Water wildlife attraction after a female was introduced to their two males last year.
The birth is particularly welcome as the pigeon is officially designated as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A Near Threatened species is one which is considered to be under threat of extinction in the near future unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.
“It’s fantastic news to have an egg hatch out successfully after more than a year of waiting and hoping,” said head keeper Alistair Keen.
“Nicobars are large birds, measuring around 40cms, with long neck feathers and an iridescent, rainbow-coloured plumage.
“The parents took it in turns to incubate the egg and incubation lasted for about a month. Now the chick has hatched they are also sharing in the upbringing by regurgitating a crop milk to feed it.
“If all goes well the chick will start leaving the nest after around three months.
“A number of experts believe the pigeon is the closest surviving relative to the extinct dodo which died out in the 17th century. Some evidence suggests the pigeon was once similar in size to the dodo but may have reduced its size over a period of time,” he added.
Nicobars are native to a group of small islands and coastal regions of Asia, mainly around Cambodia, Thailand and India. They get their name from the Nicobar Islands where they breed.
The pigeons are hunted in considerable numbers for food, and also for their gizzard stone which is used in jewellery. They are also under threat from habitat loss and introduced predators
With its combination of woodland, riverside and gardens, Birdland features more than 500 birds, ranging from birds of prey and parrots to cassowaries and cranes in a mix of free-flying and aviary displays.
- Birdland Park and Gardens, Rissington Rd, Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos, GL54 2BN. Open Daily From 10am (Except Christmas Day). Tel: 01451 820480 or visit www.birdland.co.uk for more information.