Choiseul Pigeon, Microgoura meeki

The Choiseul Pigeon or Solomon’s Crested Pigeon (Microgoura meeki) is an extinct species of bird belonging to the pigeon and dove family Columbidae. It was native to the islands of Choiseul located in the Solomon Islands, although there are unsubstantiated reports that it might have once lived on several nearby islands. The pigeon was monotypic within the genus Microgoura and had no known subspecies. The closest living relative is believed to be the Thick-billed Ground Pigeon, and some authors have proposed that the Choiseul Pigeon might be a ling between the species and the crowned pigeons. The adult pigeon was largely blue-grey colored, with a buffy orange belly and a distinctive slaty-blue crest. It isn’t known how this crest was held by the bird in life. The birds head featured a blue frontal shield surrounded by black feathers and a bicolored beak. The wings were a brown color and the short tail was a blackish purple. It was described as having a beautiful rising and falling whistling call.

As the bird became extinct before significant field observations could occur, not much is known about its behavior. It is believed to have been a terrestrial species that laid a single egg in an unlined depression within the ground. It roosted in pairs or small groupings of three to four in small shrubs and was reportedly very tame, allowing the hunters to pick it up off of its roost. It lived in lowland forests, especially in coastal swampy areas that lacked mangroves. It was only recorded by Albert Stewart meek, who collected six adults and one egg from the northern portion of the island in the year 1904. In spite of many subsequent searches, the bird has not been definitively reported since then. It is believed to have been rare when Meek collected the specimens. The native peoples reported that the species was driven to extinction because of the introduction of feral cats, as the pigeon had never previously confronted a carnivorous mammal on the island. The last unconfirmed report of a Choiseul Pigeon was in the early 1940s, and the species is considered extinct.

Image Caption: Colored plate of Microgoura meeki, a remarkable new genus of Ground- Pigeon from the Solomon Islands. Credit: John Gerrard Keulemans/Wikipedia