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Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri
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The population of this species has increased as a result of intensive conservation action, and exceeded 50 mature individuals in 1993, and 300 in 2000. However, it has a very small range concentrated in just a few locations, and remains threatened by a continuing decline in the quality of suitable habitat. For these reasons, the species is still listed as Endangered, however it may become eligible for downlisting in the future. Numbers fluctuate owing to predation and disease and it seems doubtful that present populations could be maintained without the current intense management programme.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note

Nesoenas picturata and N. rostrata (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as N. picturata following Cheke (2005), and before that N. picturata and N. mayeri were present in the genus Streptopelia following Johnson et al. (2001), and before that were present in the genus Columba following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993). 

Columba mayeri BirdLife International (2000), Columba mayeri Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Columba mayeri Collar et al. (1994), Streptopelia mayeri BirdLife International (2004)

36-38 cm. Large, pale pigeon. Pinkish-grey with dark brown back and rusty tail. Similar spp. Madagascar Turtle-dove Streptopelia picturata is much smaller and darker. Voice Flight call a short, hard, nasal hoo hoo. Male territorial call a series of coo-cooo notes.

Distribution and population
Nesoenas mayeri survives in the Black River Gorges of south-west Mauritius and on Ile aux Aigrettes, just off the eastern coast. Although once common, it declined to just 10 wild individuals in 1990, and were it not for intervention, it would have rapidly gone extinct. Since then, intensive management has resulted in a spectacular increase, although the population is still dependant on ongoing intensive management. Since 2000 the population has been over 300 individuals in five subpopulations; numbers have fluctuated but in April 2007 there were 380 birds (C. Jones in litt. 2007), in April 2010 the population was estimated at 376-493 birds (V. Tatayah in litt. 2010) and in August 2011 the population was estimated at 446 birds in six subpopulations (five in the National Park and one on Ile aux Aigrettes). In 2007, of the five established subpopulations, two were in decline (Plaine Lievre c. 110 birds and Bel Ombre c. 48 birds), two were increasing (Pigeon Wood c. 65 birds and Combo c. 65 birds) and the subpopulation on Ile aux Aigrettes was believed to have reached carrying capacity and to be stable at 85 birds (K. Edmunds in litt. 2007). It is now thought that the Ile aux Aigrettes birds and probably other subpopulations are undergoing natural fluctuations (V. Tatayah in litt. 2010). There is some limited movement between the mainland populations (Jones and Swinnerton 1997), and in 2010 five birds out of 27 which had been translocated from the mainland to Ile aux Aigrettes flew back to the mainland (Raffa 2011).

Population justification
C. Jones in litt. (2005) estimated the population to number 360-395 individuals in total, roughly equating to 240-260 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Survey results indicate that the population continues to fluctuate. Two sub-populations are currently declining, two increasing, and one stable. The overall trend is estimated to be a decline of 10-19% over ten years, which is ongoing.

It inhabits native forest and has a diverse diet, including both native and exotic plants (Jones 1987). In the early 1990s, the entire wild population nested in a single grove of introduced Japanese red cedar Cryptomeria japonica. However, ongoing studies suggest that rat predation in Cryptomeria is higher than in native vegetation, thus the value of Cryptomeria is unclear (Carter 1998, Swinnerton 2001). When there is available restored native vegetation for nesting, birds use this in preference to exotic species.

Severe loss of habitat has been compounded by continued predation of nests and adults by introduced crab-eating macaque Macaca fascicularis, mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus, rats and feral cats (Reese Lind 1994, Swinnerton 2001). Invasive plant species reduce the quality of breeding and foraging habitat. Cyclones destroy nests and accelerate habitat degradation (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Natural food shortages mean that birds must be provided with supplementary food. The disease Trichomonosis was brought to Mauritius by alien pigeons (which now act as a reservoir for the disease) and 359 (84.3%) of 429 individual birds screened between 2002-2004 tested positive for Trichomonas gallinae at least once, however pathogenicity was found to be low, with active sigens of the disease recorded in only 1.9% of birds which tested positive (Bunbury et al. 2008). Nevertheless, the disease causes significant levels of mortality, especially in juveniles, and it is likely to be limiting population growth (Swinnerton et al. 2005, Bunbury et al. 2008). Inbreeding depression is an ongoing concern (Swinnerton et al. 2004).

Conservation Actions Underway
A captive-breeding and reintroduction programme, combined with establishment of Conservation Management Areas, habitat restoration, control of exotic predators, supplementary feeding, nest guarding, clutch and brood (fostering) manipulations, rescue of eggs and young from failing nests, control of disease and monitoring of survival and productivity, has helped this species survive (C. Jones in litt. 2000). The Black River National Park covers much of its range (Swinnerton 2001). The population is managed to maximise genetic diversity and counter the effects of inbreeding depression, with birds moved beetween subpopulations (Swinnerton et al. 2004, Raffa 2011). There are plans to release three additional populations (K. Edmunds in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue research into population genetics and disease (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Continue rehabilitation of mainland native vegetation (Safford and Jones 1998). Continue intensive mangement of wild-living populations. Extend Conservation Management Areas and surrounding predator-proof fences (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Consider introduction to other Mauritian islets (and Réunion) if ecosystem rehabilitation and predator elimination are successful (Safford and Jones 1998).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Bunbury, N.; Jones, C. G.; Greenwood, A. G.; Bell, D. J. 2008. Epidemiology and conservation implications of Trichomonas gallinae infection in the endangered Mauritian Pink Pigeon. Biological Conservation 141(1): 153-161.

Carter, S. 1998. Mammalian predation on endangered Mauritian birds: predator identification, impacts and refuges in exotic vegetation. Unpublished thesis, Royal Holloway College, University of London..

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Jones, C. G. 1987. The larger land-birds of Mauritius. In: Diamond, A.W. (ed.), Studies of Mascarene Island birds, pp. 208-300. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

Jones, C. G.; Swinnerton, K. J. 1997. A summary of the conservation status and research for the Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus, Pink Pigeon Columba mayeri and Echo Parakeet Psittacula eques. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 33: 72-75.

Raffa, E. 2011. Translocating Pink Pigeons. Mauritian Wildlife Foundation Newsletter: 5.

Reese Lind, C. 1994. Management of the EEP Pink Pigeon Columba (Nesoenas) mayeri population. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 30: 106-113.

Safford, R. J. 1997. A survey of the occurrence of native vegetation remnants on Mauritius in 1993. Biological Conservation 80: 181-188.

Safford, R. J.; Jones, C. G. 1998. Strategies for land-bird conservation on Mauritius. Conservation Biology 12: 169-176.

Swinnerton, K. 2001. Ecology and conservation of the Pink Pigeon Columba mayeri on Mauritius. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 37: 99.

Swinnerton, K.; Groombridge, J.J.; Jones, C. G.; Burn, R.W.; Mungroo, Y. 2004. Inbreeding depression and founder diversity among captive and free-living populations of the endangered pink pigeon Columba mayeri. Animal Conservation 7(4): 353-364.

Swinnerton, K.J.; Greenwood, A. G.; Chapman, R.E.; Jones, C. G. 2005. The incidence of the parasitic disease trichomoniasis and its treatment in reintroduced and wild Pink Pigeons Columba mayeri. Ibis 147: 772-782.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A. & Warren, B.

Bell, D., Bunberry, N., Edmunds, K., Hall, D., Jones, C., Swinnerton, K. & Tatayah, V.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nesoenas mayeri. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author Prévost, 1843
Population size 240-260 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 80 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species