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The Tale of the Dodo Bird. A Sad Story of Extinction. The dodo has a silly sounding name. Although the exact origin of the name "dodo" is unknown, it may have come from either the Portuguese ‘doudo’ meaning foolish or the Dutch word ‘dodoor’ which translates to mean sluggard (lazy-one). .

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The Tale of the Dodo Bird

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The Tale of the Dodo Bird

A Sad Story of Extinction


The dodo has a silly sounding name. Although the exact origin of the name "dodo" is unknown, it may have come from either the Portuguese ‘doudo’ meaning foolish or the Dutch word ‘dodoor’ which translates to mean sluggard (lazy-one).

Either way, Dodo is not a flattering name for a harmless bird that has been extinct for over three hundred years!


It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the dodo, since only one complete skeleton exists today, put together from bits and pieces of different dodo birds.

  • We have some written reports and drawings from eyewitnesses.
  • Unfortunately, there is no way to be sure of the accuracy of these written descriptions of the dodo, since fossil records tend to be scarce, and all of the drawings that were made tend to reflect the artist’s interpretation.

It is estimated that the average dodo weighed anywhere from 45 to 50 pounds.

  • Its wings were small and incapable of flight. The dodo was covered in soft, grey feathers, with a plume of white at its tail, and its legs were short, stubby, and yellow in color.
  • Its feet each had four toes, three in front and one angled to the back that served as a thumb, with thick, black claws.
  • The head was reported to be lighter grey than the body, and the dodo possessed a long, thick, hooked beak, which was either light green or pale yellow in color.
  • The Dodo may have looked
  • something like this…

Since the Dodo couldn’t fly, they nested on the ground, laying a single egg in a thick nest of grass.

Sailors' journals from the early 1600's report that the mother raised the young and protected the nest with fierce bites from her thick, large beak.

It is also unclear what the Dodos ate. Some birds were reported to wade in the shallow water at the shore, searching for fish, but the most remarked upon eating habit of the dodo was their need to swallow stones. The stones probably helped digestion.


So why did the Dodo become extinct?

  • Was there a problem with where they lived?
  • Were there unusual threats and dangers?

Let’s find out!


In 1680, on the Island of Mauritius (pronounced “More-ee’-shus”) there were many different kinds of birds, including the Dodo bird.


Where in the world is Mauritius located?

Let’s look at a map of the continent of Africa. See if you can located the island of Mauritius.


The Dodo was a bird with a large body and very short wings. It could not fly. There were no large mammals to prey on the Dodo. Sailors landed on the island and began killing the Dodo for food and its eggs.

Does this sound like a problem?


Also…Sailors brought animals such as pigs and monkeys which ate the Dodo eggs and the Dodo bird.

How could this make the problem worse?


Also, the seeds from the Calvaria tree on the island of Mauritius could only sprout and grow after they had gone through the digestive system of the dodo.

The seed of a Calvaria tree was very hard and needed the dodo bird to crack it.


The tree depended on the dodo and when the dodo became extinct, the tree became endangered.


Only 80 years after humans came to Mauritius, the dodo was extinct and the Calvaria tree was endangered as well.

Because the seed could not spread and grow, the tree became extinct as well.