This is the first critically endangered species to be included on the #BeakoftheWeek blog. The tooth-billed pigeon is endemic to the Samoan islands of Upolu and Savai’i (where is it known as Manumea) and is one of the closest relatives to the legendary extinct dodo. This fascinating pigeon is nicknamed the ‘little dodo’ and unfortunately relatively little is known about it.
The tooth-billed pigeon is an EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered) species and it is believed that there is only between 50-249 mature individuals left in the wild. Drivers of declines in numbers are habitat destruction (logging and cattle ranches), hunting, invasive species and damage by cyclones during the 1990s.
It is the national bird of Samoa and is legally protected from hunting although this is not enforced. Conservation efforts are targeted at bringing this species back from the brink of extinction, such as habitat restoration and extending hunting bans to including all native pigeons to prevent accidental killing. Establishment of captive populations and translocation to rat-free islands are also being considered as possible steps.
Little is known about breeding in this species except that they are thought to nest in thick foliage about 5-12m from the ground and lay 2 eggs per clutch.
I can offer you up some good news today! Back in 2013 a juvenile tooth-billed pigeon was photographed on Savai’i which means that they are still breeding even though they are not being spotted very often. Hopefully conservation efforts will lead to an increase in this species’ numbers in the near future so that we don’t lose them forever.
No Xeno Canto links calls are available for this species unfortunately, so you will have to sit back and enjoy this cool OneZoom animation and explore their nearest relatives. Definitely recommend taking a peak at the Nicobar pigeon, I do love that pigeon.
Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2014). Tooth-billed Pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/54282 on 20 July 2015).
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Didunculus strigirostris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/07/2015.