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Micronesian Scrubfowl Megapodius laperouse
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This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small, fragmented range and a relatively small estimated population. Given the multiple threats across its range, it is likely to be suffering a continuing decline.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note

38 cm. Medium-sized, dark megapode with paler head. Mostly brownish-black with short pale grey crest. Yellow bill, red facial skin showing through thin feathers. Unusually large, dingy yellow legs and feet. Similar spp. Could be confused with dark morphs of Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus (or feral domestic stock). Voice Call a loud keek, song often a duet with one bird beginning a rising and accelerating keek-keek-keek-keek- etc. culminating in a loud kee-keer-kew (Palau) or keek-keer-keet (Marianas), the other answering with a rising cackle that slows near the end. Hints Often shy and secretive, but becomes relatively tame on inhabited islands where protected from disturbance.

Distribution and population
Megapodius laperouse occurs on Palau and the Northern Mariana Islands (to USA), and is extirpated from Guam (to USA). In Palau, race senex is generally uncommon to rare and locally distributed (VanderWerf 2007), although 'hundreds' were recently reported on Kayangel Atoll (J. Millet in litt. 2007, G. Wiles in litt. 2012). In 1991, the population was estimated at 497 birds, excluding Kayangel (Engbring and Pratt 1985, Engbring 1992). In 2005, a repeat survey found stable numbers on Peleliu and Babeldaob, but evidence of declines in the Rock Islands and on Anguar (VanderWerf 2007). Kayangel Atoll was not included in this survey. In the Marianas, nominate laperouse is mainly restricted to the islands north of Saipan (including Farallon de Medinilla [Lusk et al. 2000]). In 1997, the population was estimated at 1,440-1,975 birds (the largest subpopulation being 545-810 on Sarigan) (USFWS 1998). A remnant population of a few birds may persist on Tinian (Wiles et al. 1987, USFWS 1998, J. Lepson in litt. 1999), although no individuals were detected during a survey in 2008 (Camp et al. 2009). Aguiguan supports a small population (USFWS 1998), and  equal numbers of birds were detected during surveys in 1982 and 2008 (14 and 15 birds, respectively [Camp et al. 2009]). A small population (14 birds) was reintroduced on Saipan (Craig 1996); however, during a survey of bird species on Saipan in 2007, the species was not reported (R. Camp in litt. 2008). A significant population on Anatahan, estimated at 200-300 birds (USFWS 1998) was lost in the early 2000s when all habitat on the island was destroyed by a major volcanic eruption.

Population justification
There are estimated to be hundreds of birds in Kayangel (J. Millet in litt. 2007), 497 birds in the rest of Palau (Engbring and Pratt 1985, Engbring 1992), and 1,440-1,975 birds in the Marianas (USFWS 1998). These estimates total 2,000-2,500 individuals, roughly equating to 1,300-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The Palau population is suspected to be undergoing a continued decline (VanderWerf 2007) owing to human disturbance of nest mounds and the effects of introduced species and continued persecution; however, the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.

Most remaining populations in the Marianas inhabit areas of volcanic forest and coconut groves on volcanic islands, whereas those present on the limestone islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Aguiguan prefer limestone forest and secondary forest (USFWS 1998). In Palau, most birds inhabit limestone and beach strand forests, with smaller numbers present in upland volcanic forests (Engbring 1992, VanderWerf 2007). The species is omnivorous, taking a wide variety of foods from the forest floor including insects, crabs and plant matter (Engbring 1988, USFWS 1998). Nominate laperouse nests in burrows in sun-warmed cinder fields or geothermally-heated areas (USFWS 1998). Race senex nests in large mounds located primarily in narrow beach strand forests; these are constructed of sand and plant material (Wiles and Conry 2001). A few mounds are also built in upland forest and are made of decayed wood and other plant material.

In the Marianas, forests are periodically degraded by typhoons and damaged by feral herbivores, sometimes resulting in the loss of topsoil, and consequent reduction of food and nesting sites. A volcanic eruption destroyed the entire megapode population on Anatahan in the early 2000s. Volcanic activity is an ongoing threat on other islands as well, and can bury vegetation and nesting areas (USFWS 1998). Birds were hunted, and eggs were collected in the past (USFWS 1998), but the current extent of these problems is unknown. In Palau, increased tourist use of beaches has resulted in disturbance to nest sites (Engbring 1992). Birds are infrequently hunted in Palau, but the eggs are still regularly collected illegally from nest mounds (Engbring 1992, Pratt and Etpison 2008). On all islands, predation on megapodes by introduced predators, e.g. monitor lizard Varanus indicus, rats Rattus spp., and feral cats, dogs and pigs is a threat (USFWS 1998, Pratt and Etpison 2008). The accidental introduction of the brown tree snake Boiga irregularis from Guam to other islands in the Marianas and to Palau is a serious threat (USFWS 1998).

Conservation Actions Underway
In the Marianas, a  recovery plan exists and the species is protected by federal and local laws (USFWS 1998). More surveys are planned (USFWS 1998). In 1998 and 1999, feral goats and pigs were removed from Sarigan (G. Wiles in litt. 1999). The uninhabited islands of Asuncion, Maug, Uracus and Guguan are wildlife sanctuaries (USFWS 1998). One important conservation action was the re-introduction of this species to Saipan in the 1960s and 1970s by local islanders (USFWS 1998). In Palau, the Ngerukewid Islands Wildlife Reserve protects 50-80 birds (Wiles and Conry 1990). There are plans to eradicate rats from the atoll of Kayangel (J. Millet in litt. 2007, A. Gupta in litt. 2011). The status of the species in Palau is under active review by Belau National Museum (A. Olsen in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct detailed censuses (including mapping nesting sites). Develop a long-term monitoring programme. Continue ecological research. In Palau, determine the risk of human disturbance to nest sites. In the Marianas, preserve remnant forest from development and feral ungulates. Throughout its range, selectively control cats, rats, and monitor lizards, and protect all islands from the introduction of the brown tree-snake. Implement an education programme to discourage hunting of the species. Eradicate rats from Kayangel.

Baker, G.C.; Dekker, R.W. R.J.; Keane, A.M. in press. Megapodes: status survey and conservation action plan 2005-2009. IUCN and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, UK.

Camp, R. J., T. K. Pratt, F. Amidon, A. P. Marshall, S. Kremer, and M. Laut. 2009. Status and trends of the land bird avifauna on Tinian and Aguiguan, Mariana Islands. Appendix 3.1. Terrestrial Resource surveys of Tinian and Aguiguan, Mariana Islands, 2008. Working Draft. . U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, Honolulu, HI.

Craig, R. J. 1996. Seasonal population surveys and natural history of a Micronesian bird community. Wilson Bulletin 108: 246-267.

Dekker, R. W. R. J.; Fuller, R. A.; Baker, G. C. 2000. Megapodes. Status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. IUCN and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Engbring, J. 1988. Field guide to the birds of Palau. Conservation Office and Bureau of Education, Koror, Palau.

Engbring, J. 1992. A 1991 survey of the forest birds of the Republic of Palau. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Honolulu.

Engbring, J.; Pratt, H. D. 1985. Endangered birds in Micronesia: their history, status and future prospects. In: Temple, S. A. (ed.), Bird Conservation, pp. 71-105. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, U.S.A.

Lusk, M. R.; Bruner, P.; Kessler, C. 2000. The avifauna of Farallon de Medinilla, Mariana Islands. Journal of Field Ornithology 71: 22-33.

Pratt, H. D. and Etpison, M. T. 2008. Birds & bats of Palau. . Mutual Publishing, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Stinson, D. W.; Glass, P. O. 1992. The Micronesian Megapode Megapodius laperouse: conservation and research needs. Zoologische Verhandelingen 278: 53-55.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Recovery plan for the Micronesian Megapode (Megapodius laperouse laperouse).

VanderWerf, E. A. 2007. 2005 bird surveys in the Republic of Palau: final report.

Wiles, G. J.; Conry, P. J. 1990. Terrestrial vertebrates of the Ngerukewid Islands Wildlife Preserve, Palau Islands. Micronesica 23: 41-66.

Wiles, G. J.; Conry, P. J. 2001. Characteristics of nest mounds of Micronesian Megapodes in Palau. Journal of Field Ornithology 72: 267-275.

Wiles, G.J., Beck, R.E. and Amerson, A.B. 1987. The Micronesian Megapode on Tinian, Mariana Islands. 47 Elepaio: 1-3.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Keane, A., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A.

Lepson, J., Millett, J., Wiles, G., Camp, R., Gupta, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Megapodius laperouse. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Megapodiidae (Megapodes)
Species name author Gaimard, 1823
Population size 1300-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 840 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species