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The Rodrigues solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria) was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues. With the extinct dodo of Mauritius, it formed a subfamily of the pigeons and doves. The male solitaire was much larger than the female and his plumage was a darker grey-brown. Both sexes had a black band at the base of the hooked beak and a long neck. They were territorial, using bony knobs on their wings in combat. The female laid a single egg that was incubated by both sexes. Their diet included fruits and seeds. The solitaire was first described in detail by François Leguat, the leader of French Huguenot refugees who were marooned on Rodrigues in 1691–1693, but little else was known about the bird until the first of thousands of subfossil bones were found in 1786. Hunted by humans and introduced animals, the solitaire was extinct by the late 18th century. A former constellation was named after it. (Full article...)

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