Fun Tooth-billed Pigeon Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Read some interesting tooth-billed pigeon facts on our website

The tooth-billed pigeon ( Didunculus strigirostris), or locally called manumea, is a huge Samoa pigeon of the family Columbidae. As per phylogenetic studies, these birds are a basal living breed of the Columbidae breed.

These are the only existing breed of the genus Didunculus. Also, the only other member of this genus is the now extinct Tongan tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus placopedetes), whose only known information is through fossils found in Tonga.

The tooth-billed pigeon is a Samoa national bird and featured in the 2008-2011 currency series. These species are evaluated as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as per BirdLife International.

They were first found by the United States' Exploring expedition, under the commander Wikes, in October or November 1839. In 1844, Hugh Edwin Strickland announced the discovery.

William Jardine made the formal description placing them under Gnathodon strigirostris, which was already in use. Records show that these pigeons are genetically close to dodo as the genus Didunculus translates to 'little dodo.'

It was also suggested that these birds are close to parrots. They are red, gray, and iridescent blue-green color.

If these facts about the tooth-billed pigeon were interesting, then do read some dove facts and northern parula facts.

Tooth-Billed Pigeon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tooth-billed pigeon?

The tooth-billed pigeon ( Didunculus strigirostris) known as the manumea, is of the Columbidae family, genus Didunculus and order Columbiformes. This little dodo is an elusive dark bird that only occurs in remote parts of the Island of Samoa in the world.

These birds have evolved over the years without any predators. The introduced species like feral cats and rats, habitat loss, occasional cyclones, and more have affected their population.

Genetic testing proved that this bird is genetically close to the extinct dodos and has no related living member. The little dodo is also the national bird of Samoa and occurs on the country's currency.

These bird species play an important role as seed distributors in the native forests of Samoa. They display an unusual behavior of scooping up water with their bills than sucking the water with their tongue.

What class of animal does a tooth-billed pigeon belong to?

The tooth-billed pigeon ( Didunculus strigirostris) is a member of the class Aves of animals.

How many tooth-billed pigeons are there in the world?

The last sighting of the tooth-billed pigeon ( Didunculus strigirostris) was in August 2020 and the sightings of the distribution of these species have drastically decreased. It is assumed that currently there are around 70-380 of these birds in the world. The remaining population is at risk of extinction. There is currently no population in captivity.

Where does a tooth-billed pigeon live?

The tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris) occupy only a remote habitat range in the forest regions of Samoa in the Pacific. They cover the natural habitat in Central Savai'i rainforest, Fagaloa bay, Uafato Tiavea Conservation Zone, and Tafua Preserves on the Upolu Island and Nu'ulua Island.

What is a tooth-billed pigeon's habitat?

The tooth-billed pigeon ( Didunculus strigirostris) covers a range from forests through subtropical moist lowlands. The little dodo is confined to the forest floors and at elevation up to 5249 ft (1,600 m).

Who do tooth-billed pigeons live with?

Didunculus strigirostris (tooth-billed pigeon) can live on their own or in a group of several individuals.

How long does a tooth-billed pigeon live?

The data on the life span of the Didunculus strigirostris (tooth-billed pigeon) is not available. However, pigeons live up to the age of 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Not a lot of information is available about the reproduction of these endangered species. The female produces around two eggs in the breeding season.

What is their conservation status?

These species are evaluated as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as per BirdLife International. Unlike the Tongan tooth-billed pigeons, the tooth-billed pigeons are not extinct.

However, as per the IUCN list, the population is declining due to limited range, habitat loss, hunting, occasional cyclones, hunting, and small population size. They are also affected by the introduced species of cats, rats, dogs, and pigs.

It is assumed that there are around 70-380 of these adult birds in the world. Chicks are prone to these factors than adults.

Currently, several recovery plans are undertaken like prohibiting hunting and protecting their distribution and natural habitat. The Auckland Zoo is about to study captive-breeding of these species in Samoa, as per the 2020 report.

Tooth-Billed Pigeon Fun Facts

What do tooth-billed pigeons look like?

Victoria-crowned pigeon

*Please note that this is an image of a Victoria-crowned pigeon, not a tooth-billed pigeon. If you have an image of a tooth-billed pigeon, please let us know at

The tooth-billed pigeons of the family Columbidae are medium-sized dark pigeons. They have bare red skin around their eyes and reddish feet.

They have a grey head, neck, and underpart with little iridescent green-blue color. They have a rufous chestnut tail, tertials, and wing-coverts and the rest of their remiges are black.

The large curved bill is red and on their lower mandible, they have tooth-like projections. The structure of their bill, jaw, and tongue suggests that they are related to parrots.

However, these characteristics have been studied to have raised due to their diet. The male and female description is quite similar but the young pigeons have dull colors but browner head and a black bill with an orange base.

How cute are they?

Due to the projections on their lower mandible, they are not considered cute.

How do they communicate?

These endangered pigeons communicate using sounds. They use their call to share their location and food resources and also during courtship.

How big is a tooth-billed pigeon?

The species of pigeons are of the length 12.2-14.9 in (31-38 cm)

How fast can a tooth-billed pigeon fly?

The exact flight speed of the tooth-billed pigeon is not known. However, pigeons fly at around 48 mph (77 kph).

How much does a tooth-billed pigeon weigh?

The weight of a tooth-billed pigeon is 0.88 lb (400 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names give to the male and female of this species.

What would you call a baby tooth-billed pigeon?

There are no specific names give to the baby tooth-billed pigeon.

What do they eat?

The little dodo feeds on fruits, seeds, and plants.

Are they poisonous?

No, these pigeons are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. These close to extinction species are shy birds and do well in forest regions.

Did you know...

Another name for these species is 'dodlet' which was suggested by Sir Richard Owen.  

The bill of these pigeons allows them to see through the Dysoxyl tree species that are related to mahoganies.  

The information collected on the extinct Tongan tooth-billed pigeon is through the subfossil remains found in different sites in Tonga.

The family of Columbidae consists of doves and pigeons. The larger bird species are referred to as pigeons and smaller ones as doves.

Hugh Edwin Strickland announced the discovery of these pigeons in September 1844.

How do you tell the difference between a tooth-billed pigeon and a pheasant pigeon?

The tooth-billed pigeons are medium-sized dark pigeons whereas pheasant pigeons are large terrestrial pigeons. The scientific name is Otidiphaps Nobilis.

The tooth-billed species has a curved and hooked red bill with tooth-like projections. The pheasant species has a straight and longer than the head red bill.

The four subspecies of pheasant pigeons are black-naped, grey-naped, white-naped, and green-naped pheasant pigeons.

The predators of pheasant pigeons are native species like foxes, hawks, owls, raccoons, falcons, and skunks. The predators of the tooth-billed species are introduced cats, rats, and dogs.

Why is the tooth-billed pigeon also called manumea?

They are called manumea in the local language of the Samoan regions. Manumea means 'precious bird' or 'red bird.' They are also called 'manuma' meaning 'shy bird'.

Learn more about some other birds from our bee hummingbird facts and Amazon parrot facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable tooth-billed pigeon coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

Read full bio >