Mauritius Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas nitidissima

The Mauritius Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas nitidissima) is an extinct species of blue pigeon previously native to the Mascarene island of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean eastwards of Madagascar. It has two extinct relatives from the Mascarenes and three living ones from other islands. It is the type species of the genus of blue pigeons, Alectroenas.

It had white colored hackles around the head, neck, and breast and blue colored feathers on the body, and it was red on the tail and the bare portions of the head. These colors were thought much like those of the Dutch Flag, a resemblance reflected in some of the bird’s names. The males had red colored foreheads, and the juveniles might have been partially green. It was 12 inches long and larger and more robust than any other blue pigeon species. It could raise its hackles into a ruff, which it utilized for display. The call sounded like “barf barf” and it also made a cooing noise. It fed on fruits, molluscs, and nuts, and was once widespread within the forests of Mauritius.

The bird was first mentioned in the 17th century and was described several times thereafter, but very few accounts describe the behavior of living specimens. Several stuffed and at least one live specimen reached Europe in the 1800s and the 1700s. Only three stuffed specimens exist today, and only one bird was ever depicted when alive. The species is thought to have become extinct in the 1830s because of the deforestation and predation.

Image Caption: Photo of a stuffed Mauritius Blue Pigeon in the national museum of scotland. Credit: Geni/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)