Birds of the World-4 Blue pigeons of the genus Alectroenas,also includes two species of birds from the genus Alectrurus

Seychelles Blue Pigeon. Courtesy of Flickr user Copleys.  CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License.

Introduction Birds of the world-4

In this series of articles we review the birds that occur within a particular genus. These birds occur all over the world. Here we review the species collectively known as the Blue pigeons. They belong to the genus Alectroenas and they occur widely throughout the western Indian ocean. The genus contains just three living species. Another three, The Mauritius Blue pigeon, Rodrigues blue pigeon and the Reunion Blue pigeon are sadly now extinct. These birds belong to the Pigeon and Dove family Columbidae.

We commence our review with the Madagascan Blue Pigeon. 

Madagascan blue pigeon. Courtesy of Francesco Veronesi {Italy} CC BY-2.0 Generic Licence


Madagascan blue pigeon. Alectroenas madagascariensis

This species as its common name suggests is endemic to Madagascar, is also referred to as the Red-tailed Blue Pigeon.  It is about 25-28 cm { 10-11 inches} long. The throat and neck are a silvery blue grey,the upper parts dark blue. The upper mantle is a silvery grey colour. The under parts are dark blue,with the exception of the breast and under tail coverts which are a silvery blue green. The upper tail coverts are reddish brown. The tail is short.

There is a patch of red skin around the eye. The bill is greenish with a yellow or horn tip. The legs are dull red. The female is similar to the male but has a generally duller plumage.

These arboreal birds inhabit the humid forests,or  secondary forest habitat, close to the primary forests and nearby orchards and plantations, where they feed on the fruiting trees. They are encountered in groups of between three and twelve birds.

The nest is made of twigs in which a single white egg is laid. There is no further information is available on the nesting habits of this species.

Although not a species of global conservation concern the total population is thought to be in decline  away from protected areas due to unsustainable persecution.

Illustration of the Comoros blue pigeon. Public domain. Wikipedia.

Comoros Blue Pigeon Alectroenas sganzini.

The Comorus blue pigeon,Alectroenas sganzini, is a native to Comoros {an island at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel}, where it inhabits the sub-tropical and tropical moist forests, mangrove forest and mountainous forests. These arboreal birds are also encountered on Mayotte and the Seychelles Islands. 

There are two sub-species A.s minor which occurs in the humid forests of Aldraba and As sganzini on the Comoro Islands { Grand Comoro, Anjouan and Mayotte}.

Little is known about the birds breeding habits but they are thought to be similar to other pigeons. Although not listed as a species of conservation concern on a global level populations are thought to be in decline. 

Seychelles blue pigeon. Courtesy of Adrian Scottow. CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License.


Seychelles blue pigeon.  Alectroenas pulcherrimus.

The Seychelles Blue Pigeon ,also referred to as the Seychelles Blue fruit dove, is a native to the granitic Seychelles Archpelago,where it inhabits wooded areas. The Seychelles lie in the Indian Ocean and is a one hundred and fifteen island country,about nine hundred and thirty two miles east of the mainland east Africa. They are also found on the Doris island and Bird island on the edge of the Seychelles.

It is a species of about ten inches {25.4 cm } long. Its head and breast are silvery grey and its feathers can be raised when the bird is excited giving a ruffled appearance. They have a distinct  bright crimson patch of orbital skin extending from the forehead to the crown. The bill is a dull yellow colour ,the legs are dark grey. The wings and under parts and its tail are dark blue-grey.  Both sexes are similar.

This species may be encountered individually, in pairs or in small groups. They forage in woodland areas on seeds and fruits.

BREEDING-- Breeding may occur almost any time of the year with the peak activity occurring between October and April. The nest is an untidy, flimsy structure made up of twigs and constructed by the female alone., It is located in a tree or tall shrub. She the deposits a single white egg {occasionally two}, which is incubated for a period of about twenty eight days. The resulting chick{s}, known as Swabs, will remain in the nest for a further twenty one days or so. There are no current conservation concerns.  

The genus Alectrurus.

The Cock-tailed Tyrant courtesy of Scott Olmstead {Quito, Ecuador}  CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License.  Taken in Brazil.


The birds in this genus take us to South America. There are two species in this genus. The Cock-tailed Tyrant,Alectrurus tricolor {pictured above} and the Strange tailed Tyrant Alectrurus risora.

They belong to the Tyrannidae family within the large order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds}.

The Cock Tailed Tyrant, is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraquay ,where it inhabits the sub-tropical and tropical ,dry grassland in the low country. They also occur on seasonably wetland or flooded low land grassland.

The upper parts of this beautiful little bird is black and the rump grey. They have a white face,and under parts and white on the top of the wings. There is a little black patch on the sides of the breast. The black tail is elongated with feathers forming a fan shaped crescent. This bird is  four and three quarter inches long. {12 cm }. Seven and a quarter inches {18 cm } including the tail. The females are brown rather than blac

The feed on a diet of insects and seeds and some fruit. Breeding occurs between September and October,which generally coincides with the wet season. They prefer to breed in areas with tall grassland vegetation. 

They are classed by the IUCN,as being vulnerable due to habitat loss and agricultural encroachment of their habitat. 

The Strange-tailed tyrant. Alectrurus risora.

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Strange-tailed tyrant. Alectrurus risora.Illustration of the male. Courtesy of Hector Bottai CC BY-Sa 4.0 License.

Strange -tailed tyrant

The Strange-tailed tyrant, Alectrurus risora, is a species of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay,with scattered populations in southern Brazil. This striking Tyrant Flycatcher is aptly named,which is after its extraordinary elongated black tail feathers of the male. The female also has a long tail but much less dramatic to that of the male.

The male has a black head,back and breast band,the under parts are white. The throat has no feathers and turns a bright pinkish red during the breeding season. The female has a less distinct breast band and she has narrow brown stripes at the end of the tail feathers. The body length is about eight inches {20 cm } with the tail the total body length of the male is around one foot { 30 cm }.

They feed primarily on invertebrates and they are resident through much of their range,although there is some small migratory movement in Argentina and in Paraguay. 

They inhabit wet grasslands near or within marshes and they require tall grasses of up to six feetcommences in spring.The breeding season commences in spring. This species too, is classed as being vulnerable by the IUCN,for the same reasons given for the previous species.

Seychelles blue pigeon. Courtesy of BrianPwildlife. Standard YouTube License.


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