Alopecoenas norfolciensis   (?)

Norfolk Island Ground Dove
(Alopecoenas norfolciensis)

syn. Gallicolumba norfolciensis (Latham)


Australia: Norfolk Island / Norfolk Islands

local name: -

size: ca. 35 cm (length (?))

extinction date: after 1780

This species is originally known from a description given by John Latham in his work 'A General History of Birds' Vol. 8 from the year 1823.

There is furthermore a depiction, which was drawn in 1790 by John Hunter, and which definitely shows this species. Some of John Hunter's deptictions were later, around 1800, copied by an unknown artist (see illustration below). The bird depicted here bears great similarities to the Wetar Ground Dove (Alopecoenas hoedtii), but however shows also some differences, for example red eye rings.

Let me allude briefly, that both depictions are nearly identical on the one hand, but on the other hand differ somewhat from J. Latham's description.:


LENGTH fourteen inches. Bill black; head and neck to the breast white; from the last to the vent black; quills black; back and wings deep purple, with a few darker markings; tail dull purple, inner webs of the feathers dusky; legs red.
One, supposed to be a female, had the head, neck, and breast, ferruginous; back and wings green; quills dusky; belly, thighs, rump, and vent, brownish purple; the two middle tail feathers ferruginous, the rest pale brownish purple.
A third had the head, neck, and under parts, white; tail greenish, glossed with copper. - Inhabits Norfolk Island.


Meanwhile subfossil bones, which prove the former existence of this species, were found too.

The Norfolk Island Ground Dove may have died out shortly after Norfolk Island was settled in the year 1780.


Norfolk Island Ground Dove (Alopecoenas norfolciensis)

Depiction from 'Album of watercolour drawings of Australian natural history, owned by Robert Anderson Seton, ca. 1800'

by courtesy of Jennifer Broomhead / State Library of New South Wales


- Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
- David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes, John Cox: Pigeons and Doves, A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World. Pica Press, Sussex 2001
- Trevor H. Worthy, Richard N. Holdaway: The Lost World of the Moa, Prehistoric Life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2002
- Knud A. Jønsson; Martin Irestedt; Rauri C. K. Bowie; Les Christidis; Jon Fjeldså: Systematics and biogeography of Indo-Pacific ground-doves. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 2011