Dodo bird

The dodo bird or Mauritian dodo is one of the most mysterious and interesting representatives of birds that have ever lived on Earth. The Mauritian dodo managed to survive in prehistoric times and live up to our times, until it collided with the main enemy of all animals and birds, with man. The last representatives of this unique bird died more than three centuries ago, but fortunately many interesting facts about their life have survived to this day.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Dodo bird

Photo: Dodo bird

There is no exact information about the origin of the dodo bird, but scientists are sure that the Mauritian dodo is a distant ancestor of the ancient pigeons that once landed on the island of Mauritius.

Despite the significant differences in the appearance of the bizarre dodo bird and the dove, have common characteristics, such as:

  • bare areas around the skin of the eyes, reaching the base of the beak;
  • specific structure of the legs;
  • lack of a special bone (vomer) in the skull;
  • the presence of an enlarged part of the esophagus.

Having found sufficient comfortable conditions for living and breeding on the island, the birds became permanent residents of the area. Subsequently, evolving over several hundred years, the birds changed, increased in size and forgot how to fly. It is difficult to say how many centuries the dodo bird peacefully existed in its habitat, but the first mention of it appeared in 1598, when the Dutch sailors first landed on the islands. Thanks to the notes of the Dutch admiral, who described the entire animal world that he met on his way, the Mauritian dodo gained its fame throughout the world.

Photo: Dodo bird

The unusual, flightless bird has received the scientific name dodo, but all over the world it is called dodo. The history of the nickname & # 171; dodo & # 187; not exact, but there is a version that due to her friendly nature and lack of ability to fly, the Dutch sailors called her stupid and lethargic, which in translation is similar to the Dutch word «duodu». According to other versions, the name is associated with the cries of a bird or the imitation of its voice. Historical records have also been preserved, which state that the Dutch originally gave the name to the birds — wallowbirds, and the Portuguese simply called them penguins.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Dodo birds Mauritius

Photo: Dodo birds Mauritius

Despite being related to pigeons, the Mauritian dodo looked more like a plump turkey. Due to the huge belly, which practically dragged along the ground, the bird not only could not take off, but also could not run fast. Only thanks to historical records and paintings by artists of those times, it was possible to establish the general idea and appearance of this one-of-a-kind bird. The length of the body reached up to 1 meter, and the average body weight was 20 kg. The dodo bird had a powerful, beautiful beak, yellow-greenish. The head was small in size, with a short, slightly curved neck.

The plumage was of several types:

  • gray or brownish;
  • the former color.

The yellow paws were similar to the paws of modern poultry, three of which were located in front and one behind. The claws were short, hook-shaped. The bird was decorated with a short, fluffy tail, consisting of feathers curved inward, giving the Mauritian dodo special importance and elegance. Birds had a sexual organ that distinguishes females from males. The male was usually larger than the female and had a larger beak, which he used in the fight for the female.

As many records of those times testify, everyone who was lucky enough to meet a dodo was very impressed by the appearance of this unique bird. It seemed that the bird did not have wings at all, since they were small in size and, in relation to their powerful body, were practically invisible.

Where does the dodo bird live?

Photo: Extinct dodo bird

Photo: Extinct Dodo

The dodo bird was a resident of the Mascarene Islands archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean, not far from Madagascar. These were deserted and calm islands, free not only from people, but also from possible dangers and predators. It is not known exactly where and why the ancestors of the Mauritian dodos flew from, but the birds, having landed in this paradise, remained on the islands until the end of their days. Since the climate on the island is hot and humid, quite warm in the winter months and not very hot in the summer months, the birds feel very comfortable and cozy all year round. And the rich flora and fauna of the island made it possible to live a well-fed and calm life.

This type of dodo lived directly on the island of Mauritius, however, the archipelago included the island of Reunion, which was the home of the white dodo and the island of Rodrigues, which was inhabited by hermit dodos. Unfortunately, all of them, like the Mauritius dodo itself, had the same sad fate, they were completely exterminated by people.

Interesting fact: Golan navigators tried to send several adults on the ship individuals to Europe for its detailed study and reproduction, but almost no one survived the long and difficult journey. Therefore, the island of Mauritius remained the only habitat.

Now you know where the dodo bird lived. Let’s see what it ate.

What does the dodo bird eat?

Photo: Dodo bird

Photo: Dodo bird

Dodo was a peaceful bird feeding mainly on food of plant origin. The island was so rich in all kinds of food that the Mauritian dodo did not have to make any special efforts to get food for itself, but simply pick up everything you need right from the ground, which later affected its appearance and measured lifestyle.

The daily diet of the bird included:

  • ripe fruits of the patching palm, small berries in the form of peas several centimeters in diameter;
  • buds and leaves of trees;
  • bulbs and roots;
  • herbs of all kinds;
  • berries and fruits;
  • small insects;
  • hard tree seeds.

Fun fact: In order for the grain of the Calvaria tree to germinate and sprout, it had to be extracted from a hard shell. This is exactly what happened during the eating of grains by the dodo bird, only thanks to its beak, the bird managed to open these grains. Therefore, due to a chain reaction, after the disappearance of birds, over time, the Kalvaria trees also disappeared from the flora of the island.

One feature of the digestive system of the dodo bird was that in order to digest solid food, it deliberately swallowed small pebbles, which contributed to a better grinding of food into small particles.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Dodo bird, or dodo

Photo: Dodo bird, or dodo

Due to the ideal conditions prevailing on the island, there were no threats to the birds from outside. Feeling completely safe, they had a very trusting and friendly character, which later played a fatal mistake and led to the complete extinction of the species. Estimated life expectancy was about 10 years.

Basically, the birds kept in small flocks of 10-15 individuals, in dense forests, where there were many plants and the necessary food. A measured and passive life led to the formation of a large belly, which practically dragged along the ground, making the birds very slow and clumsy.

These amazing birds communicated with the help of screams and loud sounds that could be heard at a distance of more than 200 meters. Calling each other, they began to actively flap their small wings, creating a loud sound. With the help of these movements and sounds, accompanying all this with special dances in front of the female, the ceremony of choosing a partner took place.

A pair between individuals was created for life. Birds built nests for their future offspring very carefully and accurately, in the form of a small mound, adding palm leaves and all kinds of branches there. The incubation process lasted about two months, with the parents very fiercely guarding their only large egg.

An interesting fact: In the process of incubation of the egg, both parents took turns taking part, and if an outside dodo came up to the nest, then the individual of the corresponding sex of the intruder went to expel.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Dodo Birds

Photo: Birds dodo

Unfortunately, thanks only to modern studies of the skeletal remains of Mauritian dodos, scientists have been able to find out more information about the reproduction of this bird and its growth pattern. Before that, almost nothing was known about these birds. These studies showed that the bird bred at a certain time of the year, approximately in March, while immediately completely losing its feathers, remaining in fluffy plumage. This fact was confirmed by signs of the loss of a large amount of minerals from the bird’s body.

By the nature of the growth in the bones, it was determined that the chicks, after hatching from eggs, quickly grew to large sizes. However, it took them several years to reach full sexual maturity. The fact that they hatched in August, during a calmer and more food-rich period, served as a special survival advantage. And between November and March, dangerous cyclones raged on the island, often ending in a shortage of food.

Interesting fact: The female dodo laid only one egg at a time, which was one of the reasons for their fast disappearing.

It is noteworthy that the information obtained by scientific research is fully consistent with the records of sailors who were lucky enough to meet these unique birds in person.

Natural enemies of dodo birds

Photo: Lost dodo bird

Photo: The vanished dodo bird

Peaceful birds lived in complete peace and security, there was not a single predator on the island, who could hunt birds. All kinds of reptiles and insects also did not carry any threat to the harmless dodo. Therefore, in the course of many years of evolution, the dodo bird has not acquired any protective devices or skills that could save it from an attack.

Everything changed dramatically with the arrival of man on the island, being a trusting and curious bird, the dodo herself with interest made contact with the Dutch colonists, unaware of all the danger, becoming an easy prey for cruel people.

At the beginning, the sailors did not know whether it was possible to eat the meat of this bird, and it turned out to be tough and not very pleasant, but hunger and a quick catch, the bird practically did not resist, contributed to the killing of the dodo. Yes, and the sailors realized that the extraction of the dodo is very profitable, because three slaughtered birds were enough for the whole team. In addition, the animals brought to the islands caused no small damage.


  • boars crushed the eggs of dodos;
  • goats ate the bushes where they built bird nests, making them even more vulnerable;
  • dogs and cats destroyed old and young birds;
  • rats ate chicks.

Hunting was a significant factor in the death of dodos, but monkeys, deer, pigs and rats released onto the island from ships largely determined their fate.

Population and species status

Photo: Dodo head

Photo: Dodo head

Practically, in just 65 years, man managed to completely destroy the centuries-old population of this phenomenal feathered animal. Unfortunately, people not only barbarously destroyed all representatives of this kind of bird, but also failed to preserve its remains with dignity. There are reports of several cases of dodo birds transported from the islands. The first bird was transported to the Netherlands in 1599, where it created a sensation, especially among artists, who often depicted an amazing bird in their paintings.

The second specimen was brought to England, almost 40 years later, where it was exhibited to a surprised public for money. Then, a stuffed animal was made from the exhausted, dead bird and exhibited in the Oxford Museum. However, this effigy could not be preserved to our days; only a dried head and leg remained of it in the museum. Several parts of the skull of the dodo and the remains of paws can also be seen in Denmark and the Czech Republic. Also, scientists were able to model a full-fledged model of the dodo bird, so that people can see what they looked like before extinction. Although many specimens of the dodo ended up in European museums, most of them were lost or destroyed.

Interesting fact: The dodo bird gained great fame thanks to the fairy tale «Alice in Wonderland» ;, where the dodo is one of the characters in the story.

The dodo bird is intertwined with many scientific factors and unsubstantiated speculation, but the true and undeniable aspect is the cruel and unjustified actions of man, which have become the main reason for the extinction of an entire species of animal.

Rate article
Add a comment