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Marquesas Ground-dove

Gallicolombe des Marquises - Photo J-F Butaud

Gallicolombe des Marquises – Photo J-F Butaud

Gallicolombe des Marquises - Photo Fred Jacq

Gallicolombe des Marquises  © Fred Jacq

8 inches. The head, neck and chest are light grey for the male, dark grey for the female. The rest of the body is brown with red shades on the back and wings. The base of the tail feathers and primary and secondary flight feathers are sometimes white. This white colouring, is more or less marked depending on the individual and form a patch on each wing, visible when the individual is in flight. Juveniles are duller, they have brown shades on the chest and the red areas are less marked. Kataupee means ‘red flying like a butterfly’. This is the common name of a forgoten marquesan bird that could match this species according to the Mayor of Nuku Hiva, Lucien Kimitete.

Order: Columbiformes

Family: Columbidae

Category: Endemic Birds


Use to be present on Nuku Hiva, it only survives on two small islands of the Marquesas (Hatuta’a and Fatu Huku) where black rats and cats have not yet been introduced.


Found in areas rich in grasses or sedges in the maquis of mako mako (Cordia lutea), does not seem particularly attracted with pukatea forests (Pisonia grandis).

We have heard no vocalization. Sound evoking a sharp sizzle was frequently heard around a nest.

To listen the Marquesas Ground-dove:

Small seeds of sedges (Cyperus sp.), Grass (Eragrostis xerophila), pokea (Portulaca lutea) …

Very little is known about its reproduction, which would extend at least from September to January. We found three small platforms of twigs tangled in mako mako.

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



Scientific Name: Alopecoenas rubescens (Vieillot, 1818)

Polynesian Names:
Oputu (Hiva Oa), kataupepe (Nuku Hiva)

  • Marquesas (Hatuta’a and Fatu Huku)


The species is endangered. The two islands where it survives are free of black rat, cat, dog and pig, all direct potential predators of these birds spend most of their time on the ground. They are also free of introduced herbivores such as goats and sheep that are potential destroyers of the environment – in particular plant species present on the ground which make up the majority of their diet. The main danger lies in the accidental or intentional introduction of one of these alien species on both islands. This kind of event is particularly difficult to detect in time, given the remoteness of the islands and the high costs required to carry out population control visits.

Establishing a safety population on another island of the Marquesas (Mohotane example, once rehabilitated), or the establishment of a small group in captivity would overcome such a disaster. Polynesian rats, however, have been present on these islands for a long period of time. So it seems that the impact of this little rat is less important for this species as for his cousin from the Tuamotu (Alopecoenas erythropterus). We noted that it remains 660 (490-890) Hatuta’a individuals to a few dozen individuals at most on Fatu Huku (2002).

The species is listed in category A on the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
It is classified as “Vulnerable” (VU) on the France and Polynesia 2015 IUCN Red List but « En Danger » (EN) on the IUCN Red List.