Ornithological Note 31

Marquesas Ground-Dove feeding on ants

Josep del Hoyo March 17, 2015
Country: French Polynesia
Section(s): food, Food and Feeding

The Marquesas Ground-Dove (Alopecoenas rubescens) is a Vulnerable species endemic to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, where it only occurs on two uninhabited islands, Hatutu (Hatutu’a) and Fatu Huku (or Fatu’uku). There is almost no information regarding its diet, although it has been reported to feed on seeds of the tree Pisonia grandis. (Baptista et al. 2014).

During a visit to Hatutu Island on 25 September 2013 we were able to record an individual feeding on ants at the base of a tree below an active nest of a Black Noddy (Anous minutus). Guano from this nest probably explains the local abundance of ants. The bird was turning over dry leaves with its bill and picking up the revealed ants . In addition, a foraging adult was seen looking into the crevices on a fallen dead tree, and a group of adults and juveniles was foraging on the ground among fallen trunks and leaf litter, picking up food from the ground, but we were unable to find out what they were eating in either case.

The usual food for most Alopecoenas doves is reported to consist mostly of seeds and fruits, but some are known to feed on flowers, buds and young leaves. A. jobiensis, A. kubaryi, A. beccarii, A. sanctaecrucis and A. stairi, also consume small invertebrates such as insects, worms and snails (Baptista et al. 2014). Our observation appears to be the first report the Marquesas Ground-dove also feeds on insects.


Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2014). Marquesas Ground-dove (Alopecoenas rubescens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/54272 on 17 March 2015).

Marquesas Ground-Dove feeding on ants 

Recommended Citation

del Hoyo, J. (2015). Marquesas Ground-Dove feeding on ants. HBW Alive Ornithological Note 31. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100031