Socorro dove

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Socorro dove
Prize-winning animal of the German Bird Association.

Extinct in the Wild  (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Zenaida
Z. graysoni
Binomial name
Zenaida graysoni
(Lawrence, 1871)

Zenaida macroura graysoni

The Socorro dove or Grayson's dove (Zenaida graysoni) is a

dove that is extinct in the wild. It was endemic to Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Islands off the west coast of Mexico. The last sighting in its natural habitat was in 1972 and it only survives in captivity. A reintroduction program is being prepared.[2][3]

It is a close relative of the

Andrew Jackson Grayson



White-winged dove (Z. asiatica)

West Peruvian dove (Z. meloda)

Zenaida dove (Z. aurita)

Eared dove (Z. auriculata)

Socorro dove (Z. graysoni)

Mourning dove (Z. macroura)

Cladogram showing the positions of the doves in the genus Zenaida.[5]

The Socorro dove is

predators were absent but constant threats from red-tailed hawks and great frigatebirds were present.[6] The advertising call begins with a disyllabic coo, followed by three single calls, and ends with another disyllabic coo: "Coo-oo, OO, OO, OO, Coo-oo". Each of these 5 elements takes a little less than one second.[citation needed



The upper elevation limit of the doves is 950 m.[1]


There is marked behavioral difference to the mourning dove. When Andrew Jackson Grayson discussed the species, he called it the "solitary dove" because he never saw more than one male and one female together. The doves, particularly the adult males, chase away their young as soon as these can fend for their own and the partners split for the time being. This too is believed to be in adaptation to the former dominance of aerial predators, lest local concentrations of birds, let alone young, inexperienced ones, would present easy targets for the hawks. Typical of many birds on islands lacking mammals, Socorro doves also show little fear of humans or introduced predators, including cats, which proved a major factor in its extirpation.[3]

The last

ASL.[2] Before the introduction of cats, it seasonally descended into the lowlands where it was "common" in March 1953 for example. It may be that this coincided with the peak of the breeding season, when many birds had dependent young and dispersed widely to gather more varied food. This was the case in the Socorro mockingbird, the other mid-sized native landbird of Socorro, which apparently has very similar habitat preferences.[6]

Its last refuge was dominated by endemic

IUCN.[8] In particular, it was found to associate with the fig trees.[2][6][7]

Virtually nothing is known about breeding in the wild. However, each generation is estimated to be about 6.6 years.[1] Parallels in altitudinal migration with the equally solitary mockingbird might be taken as indication that the breeding activity peaked around March through April. In captivity, the female generally lays two white eggs in a nest box 1–2.5 m above ground. The incubation lasts from 14 to 17 days, and the young birds fledge after around 14 to 20 days.[3]

Extinction in the wild

The primary reason for the

feral cats had been introduced at the time that the military base was established, which was ultimately the cause of the species extinction. Two expeditions, in 1978 and 1981, failed to find the species, and it was declared extinct in the wild in 1983.[2][9]

The species avoided complete extinction due to the collection of several doves by an expedition in 1925. The subsequent use of these doves in aviculture resulted in about one hundred doves being available for captive breeding programs, beginning in the late 1980s.[10] The species reproduces no less willingly in captivity than other Zenaida doves, provided its different ecological needs are addressed. As of May 2023, the captive population numbered 156 birds, all in zoos and other facilities in Europe and North America.[3][11] As of early 2006, it was being prepared to remove the sheep and to rid the island of cats. In the meantime, with the maintenance of the remaining birds, stock for reintroduction is being provided.[3]

Reintroduction efforts

In order to protect these birds and eventually reintroduce them into the wild, various reintroduction and conservation efforts have germinated. In 1994, the birds' native island of Socorro was declared a biosphere preserve.

SEMAR, SEMARNAT, and the Mexican Navy.[15]

Specific actions

Construction of aviaries on Socorro Island began in 2003. Avian Malaria and trichomoniasis were detected during screens of other dove populations on neighboring islands in December 2003 and January 2004. As a result, recommendations for protection of the reintroduction population were put forward.[16] Construction of aviaries was completed in 2005.[16] The same year, plans were outlined to assess the level of soil erosion on Socorro as a result of vegetation loss.[1] In 2006, there was an outbreak of avian influenza in Europe, and therefore 12 doves were sent to Albuquerque Biological Park to create a separate reserve population.[17] In 2008, the Edinburgh and Paignton Zoos sent 12 chicks from their breeding program to the Albuquerque Zoo as part of the collective aggregation effort.[17] The original plan was to reintroduce the birds into Mexico in 2008, but was delayed due to import restrictions and permits, so a stock of viable individuals was kept in the US.[1] In 2010, by using hunting and telemetry, all sheep had been eradicated from the island.[18] The stock aggregated in the United States was finally transferred to Mexico in 2013.[1] As of 2011, the problem of cats and house-mice has yet to be resolved on Socorro Island.[19][20]

In addition to efforts to control cats, other animals, and human activity, such as ATV usage,

locust swarms on the island.[16] Outbreaks of Schistocerca piceifrons have occurred at least twice a year on the island since 1994, and has resulted in damage to native flowers and vegetation.[21]


  1. ^ . Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Socorro Dove (Zenaida graysoni) – BirdLife species factsheet". 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Schmechel, Ria (2006). "Socorro Dove – Zenaida graysoni". WAZA : World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Archived from the original on 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  4. S2CID 43991079
  5. .
  6. ^ .
  7. ^ a b c "Island Conservation Database". 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  8. ^ WCMC (1998)
  9. S2CID 220333993
  10. .
  11. ^ ""You sometimes feel like Noah": the London zoo team bidding to save doomed species". The Guardian. 14 May 2023. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  12. OCLC 39180924
  13. ^ Horblit, H.; Stadler, L.; Martínez-Gómez, J.E (2006). "The Socorro Dove as a flagship species for the restoration of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, México". Wings Without Borders: IV North American Ornithological Conference. Veracruz, Mexico: American Ornithologists: 149.
  14. ^ Baptista, L. F.; Martínez-Gómez, J. E (1996). "El programa de reproducción de la Paloma de la Isla Socorro, Zenaida graysoni". Ciencia y Desarrollo (22): 30–35.
  15. ^ Ettinger, Powell (2016-01-31). "Wildlife Extra News – Socorro dove returns to Mexico for first time in more than 40 years". Archived from the original on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2022-08-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ a b c Bell, D.A.; Yanga, S.; Martinez-Gomez, J.E.; Pliego, P.E. (2005). Assessing disease risk to the Socorro Dove (Zenaida graysoni) from indigenous columbiformes on Socorro Island, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico: summary report and recommendations (Report).
  17. ^ a b "Edinburgh Zoo Working Hard to Save Dove Species". 28 November 2008.
  18. ^
    S2CID 86260108
  19. .
  20. ^ Ortiz-Alcaraz, Antonio; et al. (2017-07-14). "Ecological restoration of Socorro Island, Revillagigedo urchipelago, Mexico: the eradication of feral sheep and cats". Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. 2019 (62): 267–273. Retrieved 2023-03-01 – via CAB Direct.
  21. .

External links