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INTRODUCTION & BIOLOGY

Spexplorers have found beautiful, toothless, fruit- and seed-eating birds all over the planet (except in cold regions and very remote islands; they are still somewhat uncommon in South America). They were considered "doves", "sandgrouse" or "p-Columbiformes". Investigations of the skeleton (which sports a few confusing characters that are otherwise found only in Enantiornithes) and genetic material soon showed that they weren't pigeons, or Neornithes at all. They are now thought to include Apsaravis, an interesting avialan from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia.

Otherworld pigeons tend to breed fast, grow fast, and fly fast, with the exception of some flightless species on small, remote islands.

ALLOCOLUMBIDAE (Otherworld Doves, Otherworld Sandgrouses and Tuki-tuki)

The typical otherworld pigeons, these birds have a cosmopolitan distribution, though most of their diversity is centered on Eurasia and Oceania, with a fair amount of species in North and Central Americas and Indian Ocean islands. Generally herbivores, they feed primarily on seeds and fruits, with occasional arthropods added to their diet. Very similar to HE's pigeons, otherworld pigeons are usually arboreal, but a few species became more terrestrial, either as steppe and desert ground nesters or as grounded islanders.

Sunrise Fruit Otherworld Dove (Fructivora aumalae)

The rain forests of Fiji are home to some of the most beautiful birds of Spec. Among these ranges the sunrise fruit dove, which is of a beautiful pale orange in color. It also has a dark brown beak and bright blue naked eye patches, as well as red wing and tail feathers. It belongs to a genus of frugivorous other world doves that can be found across southern Asia and Oceania, with the western most species (F. srilankai) occurring in India and Sri Lanka and the eastern most forms living isolated in Hawaii. The sunrise fruit dove is a typical member of this clade, but forages more often in the ground than its relatives in Asia and Australia. It still nests on the trees though, due to the presence of one or two species of wolfcrocs and/or monitors/sphenodontians.

Tuki-tuki (Megafructivora bartsimpsoni)

Like HE's pigeons, Spec's otherworld pigeons produced flightless, island-dwelling forms, the most notable of them being the tuki-tuki, which inhabits Mauritius, the same island where the dodo occurred in HE. Its appearance, though, is different; it has a more elaborate coloration, with yellow wing feathers and head ones (in the top of the head its feathers give it a "spiky hairstyle" appearance), red feathers cover its back and blue ones cover the underside; its beak, yellow in color, has white edges, and the eyes also have naked white patches around them.

N a

Tuki-tuki, Megafructivora bartsimpsoni (Mauritius)

As mentioned before, this animal is flightless, having evolved in a predator-free environment. However, it is a better runner than Raphus cucullatus aka the Dodo, even having lost the small first toe as in ratites; Spec's Indian island ecosystems are more diverse than on HE, with competitor herbivores (such as dryducks, which are terrestrial descendants of duckgongs) and carnivores (such as still living terrestrial crocodilians), and it is possible that the ancestors of this species lost flight before or while other species arrived on the islands. To evade predators (which are usually ambush ones, not really adapted for long distance chases) it runs and/or hides in the foliage, but it might very well use its beak as a defense weapon. As it evolved in an environment with more predators it has a fairly large clutch for a flightless bird (about 5-6), and the chicks are well more precocial than those of other allocolumbiformes, being able to walk a day or so after hatching. It spends most of its time foraging on the forest floor for fallen fruits and small animals, running away should a predator appear.

Mongolian Otherworld Sandgrouse (Diarhaptes euparadoxus)

Genus Diarhaptes and the closely related Paradiarhaptes are unique among mainland otherworld pigeons for their terrestrial tendencies; these birds, which occur in deserts and arid grasslands, are the closest that Spec has ever produced to HE's sandgrouse, and they indeed are externally identical (perhaps interestingly, HE sandgrouse were once considered to be pigeon relatives). These birds, while strongly terrestrial, are yet good fliers, travelling for miles in search of water, and maybe that is why they are more successful in dry environments than galliformes, railtites or bantams, which are either poor fliers or flightless, thus making long distance travelling difficult. As an additional adaptation they have feather covered feet, thus preventing the feet from getting burned by day and frozen by night.

Like all "sandgrouse" on both timelines, this one is highly gregarious, foraging on the ground of groups of up to 100. It feeds primarily on seeds and sometimes other plant matter; otherworld sandgrouse are among the most herbivorous allocolumbiformes. They too breed in very large numbers; since the nests are located on the ground, parents fiercely defend them, and thus an invading predator likely wouldn't stand a chance against a huge flock. During the period ot time they take after the young parents also soak their breast feathers when they drink, thus the chicks can drink once they get back to the nest.

Chestnut Otherworld Dove (Allocolumba amicacastanearum)

Each autumn, the Great Black Swamp is targeted by a dark cloud of the brown coloured chestnut otherworld doves. These, well, dove-sized light brown birds (with a middle brown stripe behind the cheeks) eat all sorts of hard tree fruits, such as acorns and beechnuts, but preferably chestnuts. During the nut-glut, they try to fill themselves up with swamp chestnuts before the latter fall to the ground. This way they largely stay out of the reach of not-coons, but not those of bobs and pentagon chickenhawks, from which they can only escape by means of their flight skills and their vast numbers. To maximize their gains from the nut-glut, chestnut otherworld doves breed rather late in summer, largely in and around the Great Black Swamp, usually on tree holes but it might build the nest on the branches if necessary. Because of their rapid growth massive flocks soon form, providing prey for several predators.

Allocolumba is the most common genus of otherworld dove, occuring all over Eurasia and North America; indeed, all the few south american species of allocolumbiforme are within this genus. Common denizens of temperate forests, they are usually dull in colour, with the Pampas otherworld dove (A. sandarakepteros) being the collourfull exception, with bright orange wing feathers and red eye patches in addition to its usual grey body colour.

CRACTICAVIDAE (Xenocrows)

Diverging well from their pigeon like relatives, cracticavids are Spec's answer to HE's artamid passerines, crow like birds that occur in Australia and New Guinea (Spec also has actual crow analogues, which are related to kingfishers, and thus unrelated to the cracticavids), and externally they strongly resemble them. More omnivorous than allocolumbids, these birds, while fruit and seed eaters, rely also a lot on animal prey, ranging from insects to small mammals, though its the fact that they are more herbivorous than near-crows that voids direct competion between the two groups of crow-like birds. They are mostly endemic to Australia and Melanesia, with a few species in Indonesia and New Zealand. There is some debate if whereas cracticavids diverged from allocolumbids or not; if so, it would render Allocolumbidae paraphyletic. However, the latest genetic studies suggest all specworld pigeons are more closely related to each other than to cracticavids, though these Australasian birds are likely descendants of a pigeon-like bird.

Aoteroan Xenocrow (Cracticavis novazelandica)

Aoteroa is inhabited by a single species of xenocrow, which pretty much is analoguous with HE's kaka, and is even coloured like it. Having a rich diet of seeds, berries, nectar, insects, mushrooms, lizards and the eggs/chicks of other birds, this bird is partially responsible for the polinization of the tree Xenoquercus australis as it drinks its nectar, and because it also feeds on the fruits it also transports the seeds. It forms permanent monogamous couples and lays a clutch of about 3-4 eggs; the chicks are precocial enough to leave the next a week after birth. These birds are quite intelligent, and are often seeing playing with random objects they find. While there is no xenocrow analogous to the kea, a species of near-crow and one of elphaba pretty much are the other main intelligent winged opportunists from these islands.

Black Xenocrow (Cracticavis novaguinea)

A denizen from northern Australia and New Guinea, it occurs in rainforest and wetland ecosystems, feeding on pretty much any fruit or animal that fits on its beak (unless poisonous). Unlike its aoteroan relative, which can be found in pairs, this one can be found in very large flocks and only forms seasonal pairs, which disband after rearing the chicks; it nests in colonies, usually in low trees. This bird has been reported fishing with sticks; since many birds (including other xenocrows) use tools, this isn't unlikely.

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