KEEPERS at Dudley Zoo and Castle have celebrated the hatching of a rare Victoria crowned pigeon.

Just months after the arrival of a male for the attraction’s resident female, as part of an EAZA managed studbook breeding programme, the pair have had their first successful hatch.

Section leader, Nicola Wright, said: “The chick hatched at the end of September following a 30-day incubation.

“It’s the first chance we’ve had to work with a Victoria crowned pigeon chick, so it’s a learning curve for us all, but it looks to be doing really well and the parents are being very attentive and we’re really pleased the pairing has proved successful so quickly.”

Both parents will care for their offspring while in the nest and for the first few months after it fledges.

Keepers will be able to officially sex the bird once it is old enough and add an identification ring to its leg.

Listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List, the regal looking bird - which is the biggest of all pigeon species - is suffering a rapid decline in its native New Guinea due to the destruction of its forest habitat.

The blue-grey coloured bird, named after Queen Victoria, is also a prized trophy for poachers.

The zoo’s Victoria crowned pigeon family can be found in Lorikeet Lookout, where the birds have built their nest on the high apex of the walkthrough exhibit’s feeding station.