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Rarotonga Fruit-dove Ptilinopus rarotongensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species now occurs only on two tiny islands, with the majority of the very small population occurring on Atiu. It is therefore susceptible to stochastic events and human impacts, and consequently qualifies as Vulnerable.

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.

20 cm. Small, mostly green pigeon. Pale greenish-grey foreparts (head, chest, upper back) contrasting with remainder of plumage but with indistinct borders. Brilliant rose-lavender crown and forehead, yellow underparts, upper belly variably tinged copper-red. Bill red at base, apple-green at tip. Red-orange iris and feet. Voice Evenly spaced series of low notes HOO-HOO-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

Distribution and population
Ptilinopus rarotongensis survives only on Rarotonga (where it is moderately common) (G. McCormack in litt. 2007) and Atiu, Cook Islands, but was once more widespread given early historic records from Aitutaki and Mauke, and fossils from Mangaia (Steadman 1989). In 1987, the population on Rarotonga was estimated at fewer than 100 individuals, but it was apparently common on Atiu (Pratt et al. 1987). It now appears more common on both islands, with the population on Rarotonga probably exceeding 500 individuals and with perhaps twice that present on Atiu G. (McCormack 1997, J. Pilgrim in litt. 2002, McCormack in litt. 2007). There is no evidence of inter-island movements (Baptista et al. 1997).

Population justification
The total population is placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals, equating to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
There is no evidence to assume that the population is not stable (McCormack in litt. 2007).

On Rarotonga, it is commonest in hillside and upland forest, often visiting the horticultural lowland areas. On Atiu, it is found in a wide variety of wooded habitats, including the fringes of plantations as well as forest growing on the makatea (a raised coral limestone platform) (Pratt et al. 1987, Baptista et al. 1997). It is primarily frugivorous but has also been reported to peck small insects from foliage (Baptista et al. 1997).

There is no evidence that the black rat Rattus rattus, which is present on Rarotonga, poses any threat to this species. The introduction of exotic avian diseases to which local birds have no immunity, although unlikely, is another possible threat (McCormack 1997). Although the introduced Common Myna Acridotheres tristis is likely to reduce the nesting success of this species in horticultural and village areas it does not penetrate into heavily forested areas. Habitat destruction is likely to be a fairly minor threat at present since most native forest required for horticulture and housing was cleared a long time ago.

Conservation Actions Underway
The species perhaps marginally benefits from conservation measures carried out for the Rarotonga Flycatcher Pomarea dimidiata (classified as Endangered) in the south-east of the island. Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey and monitor the species on both islands to establish numbers and trends. Research its immediate conservation requirements (Baptista et al. 1997), including foraging and dietary studies (Steadman and Freifeld 1999). Take measures to ensure that alien species are not accidentally introduced, especially R. rattus on Atiu. Consider translocation to Mangaia (Steadman and Freifeld 1999).

Baptista, L. F.; Trail, P. W.; Horblit, H. M. 1997. Family Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world v.4, pp. 60-243. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

McCormack, G. 1997. Cook Islands: an oceanic oasis. World Birdwatch 19: 13-16.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Steadman, D. W. 1989. Extinctions of birds in Eastern Polynesia: a review of the records and comparisons with other Pacific Island Groups. Journal of Archaeological Science 16: 177-205.

Steadman, D. W.; Freifeld, H. B. 1999. The food habits of Polynesian pigeons and doves: a systematic and biogeographic review. Ecotropica 5: 13-33.

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
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.

Dutson, G., McCormack, G., Pilgrim, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ptilinopus rarotongensis. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 - Cook Islands fruit-dove (Ptilinopus rarotongensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author Hartlaub & Finsch, 1871
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 60 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species