Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Ptilinopus rarotongensis


Cook Islands Fruit-Dove

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Open this image in pop-up window Image: Adult & juvenile - plumage differences 36KB
Open this image in pop-up window Image: Adult - resting, breast & head feathers 40KB
Open this image in pop-up window Image: subspecies - Atiu and Rarotonga 38KB
Open this image in pop-up window Image: Nestling and juvenile 57KB
Play this file in Windows Media Player Sound: Call - Rarotonga (1) (M.Taylor) 345KB
Play this file in Windows Media Player Sound: Call - Rarotonga (2) (M.Taylor) 676KB
Read this article Article: Cook Islands Fruit-Dove (Kūkupa) Open in new window
Gerald McCormack, March 2005

General Information

COMMON NAMES: Cook Islands Fruit-Dove; German Cook Insel Fruchttaube, Rarotongafruchtaube


GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE Cook Islands (Rarotonga, ‘Ātiu)

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native, Resident Breeder, Endemic of Cooks; S.Group only (RR and AT - common); Land, makatea and central hills; Feeds on small fruits and berries.

SIGNIFICANCE LIST: ; Globally endangered (moderately)Ecotourism

KEY FEATURES: To 25cmTL. Plump with a short bill. Pale grey anteriorly, green upperside, and yellow underside; with a magenta cap and white tail-tip. Rarotonga birds have red patch on lower breast. VOICE: haunting "OOOOO-OOOO-ooo-oo" or "OOOO-OOOO-oooo".

Enlarged Image of 'Ptilinopus rarotongensis'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea:

Northern Group: -

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Ptilinopus rarotongensis Hartlaub & Finsch, 1871
SYNONYMS: Ptilinopus rarotongensis goodwini; Ptilinopus rarotongensis rarotongensis

TAXONOMY: ANIMALIA; CHORDATA; GNATHOSTOMATA (Jawed Vertebrates); TETRAPODA; AVES; NEORNITHES; Columbiformes; COLUMBIDAE. COMMENT: Divided into subspecies on the basis of presence or absence of the carmine-red breast-patch. Atiu subspecies named after Derek Goodwin author of "Pigeons and Doves of the World" (1970, British Museum of Natural History).

More Information

BIODIVERSITY: Globally endangered (moderately). Comment: Common in the inland mountains of Rarotonga and throughout the makatea and inland of Atiu. Collected from Mauke in 1820, subsequently extirpated. Not recorded living on any other island, but it is in the fossil record of Mangaia.
POSITIVE SIGNIFICANCE: Ecotourism. Comments: An attractive landbird seen on Atiu and in the inland of Rarotonga.

IDENTIFICATION: To 25cm TL. Plump with a short-bill. Sexes alike. Head pale grey with a magenta cap on the forehead; neck and breast pale grey; belly greenish-yellow (Atiu) or yellow with dark magenta patch (Rarotonga); back and wings green, main wing-feathers with a yellow edge; tail green with white terminal band. Bill pale green-brown. VOICE: on Rarotonga OOOO-OOOO-ooo-oo-oo with coos shortening and softening; on Atiu similar to Rarogonga and also OOOO-OOOO-oooo with 2nd coo higher and 3rd lower. BREEDING: nest a loose twig platform; one unmarked egg.

GENERAL NOTE: During August and September 1997 Jeanne and Rosaline Tianoa and Georgina Maui made important observations on nesting behaviour in Avatiu. The lay-date was unknown but after 10 days of observed incubation the egg hatched 12 August - both birds shared incubation. The birds were distinguished by colour and behaviour - the smaller bird had a grey and light pink beak, while the other had a yellow and dark pink beak. Light Pink incubated during the night, and Dark Pink during the day. Nestling was feed on green fluid from mouth by both adults; by 13th day wing feathers had developed and it climbed from nest to sit on a branch, adults changed its diet to berries. 16th day first flight within nesting tree. 19th day flights to nearby trees, returning to nesting tree. 19th Light Pink killed in nest-tree at night by cat. During next 10 days the young flew from tree to tree calling and being fed by adult, which also chased harassing mynas and foreign fruit-dove. Day 30 adult still feeding the young; both leave towards the mountains. Although female fruit-doves are generally smaller and paler, we cannot be sure that the Tianoa "Light Pink" was the female.

Vouchers & References

Atiu: 7 specimens (including type specimen), 9/1973, D.Holyoak (Holyoak 1974).

None recorded.

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zupM03a, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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