Caroline Ground-dove Alopecoenas kubaryi


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a very small population which appears to be declining on at least one island, probably owing to hunting, predation and expanding cultivation.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The species has a small population which presumably continues to suffer from the combined effects of hunting, habitat destruction and introduced predators. A moderate and on-going decline is therefore suspected to be taking place.

Distribution and population

Alopecoenas kubaryi is endemic to the Federated States of Micronesia, occurring on the islands of Pohnpei, where the population was estimated at 841 birds in 1983-1984, and Chuuk (Truk), where it was estimated to number 294 in 1983-1984 (Engbring et al. 1990). In 1994, a repeat survey on Pohnpei recorded a decrease in encounter rate in the lowlands (F. Amidon in litt. 2007, Buden 2000). A Chuuk population estimate in 2001 indicated a significantly smaller population (G. Dutson in litt. 2001). Populations have probably always been low, at least in historical times (Baker 1951, Engbring et al. 1990). Several individuals have also been detected on Ant Atoll (D. Kesler in litt. 2012).


On Pohnpei, it inhabits brushy ravines, appearing to prefer those where hibiscus Hibiscus tiliaceus forms dense thickets. This constitutes a highly disturbed habitat, often occurring near settlements (Baptista et al. 1997). It is also found in lowland forests, mangroves and, less commonly, in montane forest. On Chuuk, it is found in agricultural and native forest at all elevations (Engbring et al. 1990). Surprisingly dense populations have been found on some islets, indicating that coastal strand/forest vegetation is also suitable (J. Lepson in litt. 1999),  and was observed regularly in similar habitats on Fenepi and  Ipis Islands, on Kuop Atoll, several Kilometers south of Chuuk proper in July 2013 (Buden in litt. 2016). It has been sighted feeding in fairly degraded habitat on the island of Weno (C. Collins in litt. 2008). It feeds primarily on the ground on seeds, worms and small snails. It nests in deep forest, up to 180 m. On Chuuk, nests with eggs have been found in February, April, June and September. Clutch-size is one (Baptista et al. 1997).


On Pohnpei, predation by introduced species (mainly rats Rattus spp. and cats) and excessive hunting may have caused some depletion (Buden 2000). Habitat loss is also a major issue. Overall, there was a reduction of undisturbed upland forest on Pohnpei of over 60% from 1975-1995 (Buden 1996, 2000, B. Raynor in litt. 1995, 2012). The majority of the island's forests have been, to varying degrees, converted or at least degraded to mixed forest (native species mixed with lowland secondary species), largely attributable to the cultivation of sakau (kava) Piper methysticum as a major cash-crop (B. Raynor in litt. 2012). The fragmentation of such forest by sakau clearings also introduces and encourages the spread of invasive species in isolated areas throughout the forest. Although efforts over the past 20 years to reduce the amount of clear-cutting for sakau plantations have resulted in the slowing of native forest conversion rates, the trend remains negative (B. Raynor in litt. 2012). On Chuuk, the only remaining semi-original forest remains in tiny remnants on the higher reaches of a few islands.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Traditional leaders have been encouraged to adopt a programme to plant sakau in the lowlands, but resistance is high because the plant grows best on wet mountain slopes and is less likely to be pilfered in more remote areas (Buden 2000). Watershed Forest Reserve boundary lines have been laid down and enforced in Madolenihmw and Uh on Pohnpei (B. Raynor in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends through detailed censuses (G. Wiles in litt. 1999). Preserve native and mixed forest remnants (J. Lepson in litt. 1999, G. Wiles in litt. 1999), including atoll islets where human disturbance can be minimised and the introduction of predators prevented (J. Lepson in litt. 1999). Assess the extent of hunting in both Pohnpei and Chuuk (G. Wiles in litt. 1999). Assess the feasibility of fencing a predator free protected area on Chuuk or Pohnpei.


28 cm. Medium-sized, short-tailed dove. Adults mostly black posteriorly, with purplish-crimson back and shoulders. White head and breast with black crown connected at rear with black postocular stripe. Juveniles dark rusty-brown. Voice Low moan, rarely uttered. Hints Shy and retiring, usually in forest but often found in gardens at mid-elevation on Chuuk. Partial to mangroves on Pohnpei.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Khwaja, N., North, A.

Collins, C., O'Brien, M., Wiles, G., Amidon, F., Buden, D.W., Lepson, J., Raynor, B., Dutson, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Alopecoenas kubaryi. Downloaded from on 19/09/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/09/2019.