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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Extinct Birds

Rodrigues Solitaire, Pezophaps solitaria

Rodrigues Solitaire

The Rodrigues Solitaire was a large, flightless bird that belonged to the pigeon and dove family, Columbidae. It lived on the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean and was closely related to the Dodo, another extinct bird species from the nearby island of Mauritius.

Rodrigues Solitaire fed on fruits, seeds, leaves, and other vegetation found in its habitat. It had a specialized hooked beak, which it used to extract and consume the seeds of various plant species. It would hold the seeds with its beak and use its foot to crack them open. In the absence of mammalian herbivores on the island, it had few competitors for food resources.

It was a large bird, measuring about 27-35 inches in length and weighed up to 45 to 50 pounds. It had a stout body, short wings, and a relatively large head. The plumage of the male was grayish-brown, while the female had a more reddish-brown coloration. They had a short beak about an inch in length, which was sharp.

They had knobs on the end of short remnants of wings which were used for defense and to warn each other by fluttering, striking themselves and making a rattling sound.

In courtship males would engage in elaborate dances, flapping their wings and striking their beaks together while producing booming sounds. They built nests of palm leaves stacked high on the ground.

Females laid one Egg, which was described as “…much bigger than that of a goose.” Both male and female incubated the egg for seven weeks, according to locals, which was not able to provide for itself for several months. They were docile birds but if their nest was threatened, they would attack even humans and try to bite them.

Similar to the Dodo, the Rodrigues Solitaire faced extinction due to human activities. The arrival of humans on the island, along with deforestation, habitat loss, and the introduction of non-native species, contributed to its decline and eventual extinction.