Liverpool Pigeon; Spotted Green Pigeon
|local name: -|
|size: ca. 32 cm
extinction date: (?)
|The Liverpool Pigeon is one
of the most mysterious bird species at all - nearly absolutely nothing is
known about this species.
It was named after the sole, still surviving, specimen, which is kept in the Liverpool World Museum in Liverpool / Great Britain.
The pigeon was ca. 32 cm long and of a bottle green colour. The feathers on the back and the wing feathers had cream-coloured tips. The neck feathers were somewhat elongated. The legs and feet may have been of a light red colour in the living bird.
The Liverpool Pigeons may originally have come from one of the islands in the South Sea. Which island exactly this may have been, will possibly never be determined.
According to D. Gibbs and E. Barnes (Pigeons and Doves: A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World) there exist oral accounts from the island of Tahiti about a bird that was green and had white spots, and which, for the sound of its calls was named 'Titi'. However 'Titi' is a name, that in many parts of Polynesia is given to several seabird species of the genera Pachyptila, Pterodroma or Puffinus, from the Petrel and Shearwater family (Procellariidae). Furthermore the Liverpool Pigeon just cannot be brought into relation to even a single one of the dove or pigeon genera, known from Polynesia.
The oldest, known, description (by John Latham in 'A General Synopsis of Birds' from the year 1783).:
SPOTTED GREEN PIGEON
LENGTH twelve inches. Bill black, tip pale yellow; round the eye somewhat naked; general colour of the plumage dark glossy green; head and neck darker than the rest; the feathers of the neck longer than the others, and pointed, like the hackles of a Cock; wing coverts and scapulars each tipped with a cinereous white spot, somewhat triangular, the point upwards; quills and tail black, the former tipped with cinereous white; and the feathers of the latter with pale ferruginous; shape even at the end; belly, thighs, and vent, dusky black; legs reddish brown, the shins covered half way with downy feathers; claws black.
We have only seen two specimens; one in the collection of Gen. Davies, the other in possesion of Sir Joseph Banks. In a drawing of one at Sir Ashton Lever's, the end of the tail is deep ferruginous.
Lionel Walter Rothschild, in the early 20th century, saw the Liverpool Pigeon as nothing but an aberrant (unusual) Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica). It is perhaps owing to his influence, that this very interesting bird is still almost unknown today, and that it is lacking in many lists of extinct birds, and also that the species was officially declared extinct only as late as 2008.
The integration of this species into the genus Caloenas can also be ascribed to Rothschild's influence - and - is erroneous!
Liverpool Pigeon ('Caloenas' maculata)
Depiction from 'John Latham: A General History of Birds. Winchester: Printed by Jacob and Johnson, for the author, 1823'
Liverpool Pigeon ('Caloenas' maculata); note the wart at the base of the bill, this is not mentioned in the original description, and is also lacking in the single specimen
Depiction from 'Bulletin of the Liverpool Museum; Vol. 1(3 & 4): 83. 1898
- Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987
- David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes, John Cox: Pigeons and Doves, A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World. Pica Press, Sussex 2001