Blue-eared earthen dove
The blue-eared earthen dove is a very rare bird from the genus of earthen doves of the pigeon family. Endemic to Brazil.
The blue-eared earthen dove is a small bird with a body length of 15.5 cm. The head, neck, chest, upper tail and wings have a bright reddish-brown color. The back and much of the abdomen are pale brown. Feathers on the throat are whitish. There are dark blue spots on the wings. Flight feathers of the first order are dark brown. The tail is blackish. The iris is blue. The beak is black with a gray base. The plumage of females is paler, especially on the belly.
Among the species similar to the blue-eared earthen dove is the closely related brown earthen dove Columbina talpacoti.
The blue-eared earthen dove inhabits the savannah of the Cerrado. On one occasion, birds were seen in a rice field after harvest. They are found singly or in pairs. Due to rare observations, other aspects of the biology of the species remain unknown.
2. Distribution and status of the population
The blue-eared earthen dove is known from very few sightings throughout the wide interior of Brazil. A small population is present at the Serra das Araras ecological station in the state of Mato Grosso, the last sighting within the protected site dates back to 2007.Other bird sightings occurred near Cuiaba, Mato Grosso state in the 1980s, and Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul state in 1992, when one individual was sighted. Historical observations are also scarce: five specimens from Mato Grosso in 1823-1825, two from Goias in 1940-1941, and one from São Paulo in 1904. The first photographs were taken in May 2016 in the state of Minas Gerais, after the discovery of at least 12 turtledoves in June 2015.
The population size is estimated at 50 - 249 adults, based on the analysis of known observations of the species, descriptions of the number and size of the range. Apparently, the bird was rare even before the middle of the 20th century, when active agricultural development of the Serrado savanna began. The reasons for this rarity are unknown, but at present the turtle doves are in danger of serious destruction of their habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the species as critically endangered.
As a conservation measure for the turtledove, the International Union for Conservation of Nature proposes thorough research in the Serra das Araras mountains, near Cuiaba and Campo Grande, in the Emas and Chapada dos Veadeirus national parks, within the Ique Juruena ecological station and along the state border Tocantins and Goias in order to determine the population size, study the ecology and, if necessary, more thoroughly protect these areas.