The socorro dove is a type of dove that was endemic to Socorro Island, an island part of a group of islands called the Mexican Galapagos. However, Socorro dove has been extinct in the wild since 1972. In the 1920s, with the Socorro dove’s numbers declining, 17 doves were taken to zoos to preserve the species. Now there are only about 100 in captivity. They survived in the zoos, but became extinct in the wild. Socorro doves are about an average size for doves, but they have longer legs than most doves. They are often mistaken for mourning doves because of their similar coloring, though females tend to be a little duller.
Why Are They Endangered?
The main reason Socorro doves are endangered is introduced animals. A main reason they went extinct was because their eggs were preyed upon and destroyed by feral cats and mice. The birds themselves were eaten and killed by feral cats and larger birds, causing the doves to stop congregating in large groups. These feral cats also forced the doves to stay in forests, instead of the lowlands that they used to live in. Sheep were an especially big problem because they went around eating and decimating the dove’s habitat. Now that they are extinct in the wild, the only animals left are the 100 birds in the captive breeding program. Now scientists are working to bring the Socorro dove back to it’s home.
The introduced cats and mice not only hurt the Socorro dove, but also the other animals that live on these islands. The group of islands that includes Socorro Island is sometimes called the Mexican Galapagos, showing that it is very isolated from the rest of the world, and like the Galapagos islands, is it’s own ecosystem. This means that introduced species can wreak havoc on the rest of the species. The sheep’s destruction of the environment also hurts other animals in the same way it did the doves. It also encourages erosion by taking away the vegetation.
What Can You Do?
It’s really important to raise awareness for the Socorro dove. If more people know about it, more people can help. You can also donate to organizations that help endangered animals such as the Socorro dove and organizations that are keeping the group of islands where the Socorro dove lived, the Revillagigedo Islands or Mexican Galapagos, under protection.
“Socorro Dove.” American Bird Conservancy. https://abcbirds.org/article/socorro-dove-returns-to-mexico-for-first-time-in-over-40-year/. Accessed 19 August 2020.
“Socorro Dove.” Endangered List. https://endangeredlist.org/animal/socorro-dove/. Accessed 20 August 2020.
“Move Over, Sheep. Doves are Returning Home to Tiny Island of Socorro.” National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2017/01/31/511806012/move-over-sheep-doves-are-returning-home-to-tiny-island-of-socorro. Accessed 21 August 2020.
*all pictures and videos used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.