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Nukuhiva Imperial-pigeon


Photo 1 : Jean-François Butaud – Photo 2 : Denise Koenig


21 inches. Male and female identical in appearance, the wings of the female are shorter and is slightly smaller. The head, neck, chest and belly are grey, that grey pulls to white on the forehead and becomes really white on the wide outgrowth, called wax, which adorns the top of the spout. The back, wings and tail are blue slate. The feathers are red. When young it has identical colours but brown hues are visible on the wings and body. They decrease with age. The iris of adults are white, their wax is well developed; iris of young individuals are brown and wax are just marked.

Order: Columbiformes

Family: Columbidae

Category: Endemic Birds


It remains on Nuku Hiva since its extinction on the other Marqueses islands which happened upon arrival of humans in these area. Remains of this bird or a species alike were found on Hiva Oa, Ua Huka and Tahuata, but also in the Society Islands and Cook Islands. SOP has re-introduced five individuals in 200 and 2001 on the island of Ua Huka in the hope creating a stable colony.


Trees in small valleys from 250 to 1300 meters high on each sides of the valleys.

Makes 3 to 5 “Kraaa” this sound is loud and successive, frequent in the morning and evening. Some individuals can imitate the sound of the dove or the owl for 10 to 20 minutes. Sounds like ‘’Kraaa’’ of a lower intensity can be heard during social interactions.

To listen the Nukuhiva Imperial-pigeon:

Fruit of the maii (terminalia catappa), pua enana (Fagraea berteroana), Guava (Psidium guajava), fei (Musa troglodytarum), motoi (Cananga odorata), aoa (Ficus proxilia), tou (Cordia subcordata); False pistachio (Syzygium cumini); maii leafs; hau flowers (Hibiscus tiliaceus) and eva (Cerbera manghas); insects.

Probably from March or April to September or October. However, a breeding period of a year is not to exclude. An egg is about 49 by36 mm and the nest remains simply made of a flat structure with small branches built in a tree. Between 5 to 20 meters high.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.



Scientific Name: Ducula galeata (Bonaparte, 1855)

Polynesian Names:
‘Upe (Nuku Hiva)

  • Marquesas (Nuku Hiva and Ua Huka)


In danger of extinction. This species is quite rare that went from “critical” to “endangered” around the world, over the past 10 years.  The main threats that this species has to face are: poaching, deforestation, black rats, cats and some other birds spreading diseases. There are only 100 to 200 individuals left in Nuku Hiva according to various census undertaken by people these last few years.
The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
It is classified as “Endangered” (EN) on the IUCN Red List.