This small bird may look somewhat drab, but sadly Extinct in the Wild, it’s one of the rarest species we keep at Chester Zoo.
This dove originally lived on the remote island of Socorro, off the west coast of Mexico, but they became extinct there in the 1970’s. Like many island bird species, Socorro Doves are often very tame and naïve, having no or few natural predators and no fear of people.
These birds became Extinct in the Wild due to predation by introduced rats and domestic cats, which were brought to the island as pets by the Mexican Navy. At the same time, their woodland habitat was being badly damaged through grazing by feral sheep and goats, which also ate newly sprouting tree seedlings.
Thankfully a small population of Socorro Doves were kept in aviaries outside of Socorro and a European Endangered Species Breeding Programme has been established. Chester Zoos birds play an extremely important role in this by helping to maintain a healthy breeding population in Zoos.
Meanwhile, on the island of Socorro the goats and sheep have been now been removed and there is a re-planting scheme to help the forests regenerate. Once the cats have been removed, we will be in a position to return some of our Chester bred birds back to their natural environment. You can see our precious Socorro Doves in the Tropical Realm aviaries.
Where they live: Endemic to Socorro Island off the west coast of Mexico. They are now Extinct in the Wild.
Habitat: Formally occurred in highland forest and rarer in the lowlands. They are a ground dweller, which made them more vulnerable to predators.
Diet: Mostly seeds, but also eats some fruits, berries and insects.
Weight: 165-215 grams.
Conservation status: IUCN Red List: Extinct in the Wild.
Threats: Predation by feral cats and introduced rats. Over hunting, following human settlement on the Island in 1957. Overgrazing by sheep destroyed the forest under-storey and ground cover plants, on which the birds depended.