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Unlocking the Secrets of the Atoll Fruit-Dove: An In-Depth Look at Their Fascinating Habits and Ecology

Atoll Fruit-Dove: The Hidden Gem of the PacificHave you ever heard of the Atoll Fruit-Dove? This little-known bird species is native to the Pacific Islands, and it’s a fascinating creature that’s well-worth learning more about.

In this article, we’ll explore the identification, plumages, and other interesting details about the Atoll Fruit-Dove.


Field Identification

At first glance, the Atoll Fruit-Dove can be recognized by its small size, short beak, and bright colors. They measure around 20 cm in length, and they weigh about 50 grams.

Their feathers are a beautiful shade of green on the back and wings, and they have a white belly and breast. Their head and neck are purple, and they have a distinctive red patch around their eye.

They also have dark red feet and a light blue patch on their wings.

Similar Species

There are many different types of Fruit-Dove species, so it can be tricky to identify a specific one. Some of the other species that may be confused with the Atoll Fruit-Dove include the Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove, the Whistling Fruit-Dove, and the Scarlet-fronted Fruit-Dove.

However, the Atoll Fruit-Dove can be distinguished from these other species by their brighter colors, shorter beak, and smaller size.


The Atoll Fruit-Dove is a beautiful bird, and their plumages can offer clues as to their age, sex, and overall health. Here are some of the key plumage details to look for:


The Atoll Fruit-Dove undergoes two molts each year: the pre-basic molt and the pre-alternate molt. The pre-basic molt typically occurs from March to May, and it involves the replacement of body feathers.

During this time, the birds may appear drab and lose their bright colors temporarily. The pre-alternate molt occurs between November and February, and it involves the replacement of head and body feathers.

During this time, the birds may look brighter and more vibrant than usual.


The Atoll Fruit-Dove may not be the most well-known species of bird out there, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting. These little creatures are beloved by birdwatchers and conservationists alike for their beautiful plumage and unique behaviors.

So if you ever find yourself in the Pacific Islands, keep an eye out for the Atoll Fruit-Dove and appreciate the natural beauty it brings to the world.


Systematics History and Historical Changes to the Distribution of Atoll Fruit-Dove

Atoll Fruit-Doves, scientifically known as Ptilinopus coralensis, are a bird species endemic to the Pacific Islands. These birds have been poorly studied, and their ecology and evolutionary history remain largely unknown.

However, recent studies have shed light on their systematics evolution and historical changes to their distribution.

Systematics History

The systematics history of Atoll Fruit-Doves has been subject to revisions over the years. Initially, they were classified under the genus Ptilinopus.

However, in the 1980s, they were placed under the genus Ramphiculus, and subsequently under Drepanoptila. In 2001, a DNA-based study reinstated the genus Ptilinopus, where they currently reside.

Geographic Variation

Atoll Fruit-Doves are found throughout the Pacific, covering a wide geographic range. Over time, this range has been subjected to changes due to natural and anthropogenic factors.

The genetic variations observed among populations of Atoll Fruit-Doves suggest that they have undergone significant geographic differentiation over time.


Currently, six subspecies of Atoll Fruit-Doves have been identified based on their morphology, vocalizations, and geographic ranges. These subspecies are:


P. c.

coralensis – The nominate subspecies, found in various atolls in Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

2. P.

c. amoenus – Found in Anuta Island and Tikopia Island in the Solomon Sea


P. c.

capistratus – Found in the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati

4. P.

c. desideratus – Found in Tuvalu, Nauru, and Banaba Island


P. c.

pelewensis – Found in the Palau Islands

6. P.

c. reichenowi – Found in the Ratak Islands, Marshall Islands

Related Species

Atoll Fruit-Doves are members of the Family Columbidae, which includes pigeons and doves. They are closely related to other Ptilinopus dove species, including the Many-colored Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus perousii), Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus iozonus), and the Maroon Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus mercierii).

These species share several similarities in morphology, vocalizations, and ecology.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Atoll Fruit-Doves were originally found across a vast area in the Pacific, from the Marshall Islands in the west to the Tuamotu Archipelago in the east. However, the distribution pattern of Atoll Fruit-Doves has undergone significant changes in the past.

This has been due to natural events such as sea level changes and volcanic activities, as well as due to human activities, such as habitat destruction and introduction of non-native species. During the last glacial period (approximately 30,000 to 10,000 years ago), lower sea levels resulted in land bridges between many Pacific Islands, allowing for easier and more frequent movements of Atoll Fruit-Doves.

Subsequently, as sea levels rose, many land bridges were severed, isolating populations from one another and leading to genetic differentiation. In more recent times, the distribution of Atoll Fruit-Doves has been influenced by human activities.

Habitat destruction due to logging, agriculture, and tourism has led to fragmentation and loss of habitat, and populations have declined or disappeared from several locations. Invasive species such as rats and cats have also been a significant threat, resulting in predation of eggs and nestlings.

In conclusion, the systematics history and historical changes to the distribution of Atoll Fruit-Doves are complex and have been influenced by both natural and anthropogenic factors. Further research is needed to fully understand the evolutionary history and conservation needs of this fascinating bird species.

Despite the challenges, conservation efforts are underway, and understanding of the diversity and genetic structure of Atoll Fruit-Doves has driven the development of effective conservation plans.

Habitat and Movements of the Atoll Fruit-Dove

Atoll Fruit-Doves (Ptilinopus coralensis) are small, brightly colored birds that are native to the tropical Pacific Islands. These birds are found in a variety of habitats and have a unique movement and migration pattern.

In this article, we will explore the habitat, movements, and migration patterns of the Atoll Fruit-Dove.


Atoll Fruit-Doves have a broad range across the Pacific Islands. They are found in a range of habitats across their range, from lowland rainforests all the way to mangrove swamps.

These birds are typically found in dense vegetation, where they can feed and nest without being disturbed. They tend to be more common on coral atolls than on volcanic islands.

The birds are strongly associated with fruiting trees and shrubs, which are their primary food source. They feed on a variety of fruits and seeds, including figs, passionfruit, and pandanus.

Atoll Fruit-Doves have also been observed eating insects, suggesting they have a diverse diet.

Movements and Migration

Atoll Fruit-Doves are generally non-migratory, but their movements are influenced by a variety of factors. For example, research indicates that there is a seasonal variation in Atoll Fruit-Dove abundance, which could be related to changes in fruit availability.

These movements can result in temporary gatherings of birds in particularly rich fruiting areas. Although Atoll Fruit-Doves are generally considered non-migratory, some subspecies have been observed to undertake small-scale movements.

For instance, there is evidence to suggest that the population of Atoll Fruit-Doves on Anuta Island migrates up to 160 km to Tikopia Island depending on resource availability. Subsistence hunting of Atoll Fruit-Doves has been a common practice in some areas throughout the Pacific Islands.

However, national and international conservation laws now prohibit this practice in most nations where these birds are found.

Conservation Status

Atoll Fruit-Doves are currently classified as a species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, this designation is based on limited data, and this species may be vulnerable to habitat loss, fragmentation, and other threats.

Although they are considered relatively common in some areas of their range, Atoll Fruit-Doves have suffered population declines in some parts of the Pacific. The primary threats to this species include habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, and subsistence hunting.

Efforts to protect these birds have included species-specific conservation plans, such as the restoration and protection of important habitat and the eradication of invasive species. In addition, efforts are underway to better understand the movements and migration patterns of Atoll Fruit-Doves and to develop conservation initiatives that can be tailored to the range of different subspecies.

Such initiatives may include monitoring the populations of Atoll Fruit-Doves and conducting surveys of their habitats to determine their most pressing conservation needs.


Atoll Fruit-Doves are fascinating and colorful birds that play an important role in the ecological health of their tropical island ecosystems. Although they face several conservation threats, their broad range, diverse diet, and relative abundance suggest that they will persist in many areas despite these challenges.

Advances in conservation science, combined with continued attention to specific conservation needs across different subspecies and island ecologies, offer hope for the long-term survival and well-being of this unique bird species in the Pacific Islands.

Diet and

Foraging Habits and Sounds of the Atoll Fruit-Dove

Atoll Fruit-Doves (Ptilinopus coralensis) are small, brightly colored birds that are found exclusively in the Pacific Islands. These birds are known for their distinctive vocalizations and unique foraging habits.

In this article, we will explore in detail the diet, foraging habits, sounds, and vocal behaviors of the Atoll Fruit-Dove.

Diet and Feeding

The Atoll Fruit-Dove is primarily frugivorous, meaning that it feeds mostly on fruits. Fruits make up more than 90% of their diet in some areas.

These birds have a particular preference for soft or pulpy fruits such as figs, bananas, and passionfruit. However, they have also been observed to feed on a wide range of plant species, including seeds, flowers, and leaves.

Atoll Fruit-Doves are known to feed primarily on plants found in lowland and foothill rainforests, but they have also been observed feeding in mangroves, coconuts, and even in gardens or during agricultural activities such as planting.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Atoll Fruit-Doves are an endothermic species, meaning they are capable of regulating their internal body temperature. This is critical for birds that depend on a stable body temperature to stay active and alert during the day.

Metabolism plays a crucial role for endothermic species in regulating their body temperature. These birds are capable of diet-induced thermogenesis, which means they can regulate their metabolism based on food availability.

This process is particularly important for Atoll Fruit-Doves because they are frugivorous and need to consume more food to maintain their body temperature than insectivorous birds. In addition, Atoll Fruit-Doves have a smaller body size than other fruit doves, which makes them more susceptible to temperature changes.

Foraging Habits

Atoll Fruit-Doves are not known for being particularly agile fliers or fast runners. Instead, they rely on a unique foraging behavior to obtain their food.

They are skilled climbers and often feed on fruits that are located high up in the trees. To reach these fruits, the Atoll Fruit-Dove uses its strong legs and feet to grasp onto branches and climb to the top of the trees.

The birds also use their beak to pluck fruits from the trees, often while perched on a branch. Atoll Fruit-Doves can be seen flicking their wings as they balance on branches while using their beaks to extract the fruit pulp.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Atoll Fruit-Doves are highly vocal birds and use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with one another. Distinctive calls are used for courtship, mate attraction, and alarm.

They produce a soft and rapid cooing sound “hu-KWOO” while standing erect, generally performed by the males during breeders and competition. Atoll Fruit-Doves have also been observed to emit rapid grunting sounds as a form of communication.

This is particularly common when two males are engaged in a competitive pursuit of a female. The call is loud and sharp, with a rapid, high-pitched frequency.


Atoll Fruit-Doves are unique birds that have specific requirements for their survival, including a frugivorous diet and specific habitat needs. They have a unique metabolism that allows them to maintain their body temperature, and a distinctive foraging behavior that allows them to obtain food.

Vocalizations play a crucial role in their daily life activities. Although these birds are relatively common in some parts of their range, they face significant conservation challenges, such as habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, and subsistence hunting.

Efforts are underway to protect this beautiful and fascinating bird species, which has a critical role to play in the ecological health of the Pacific Islands. Behavior,

Breeding, Demography, and Populations of the Atoll Fruit-Dove

Atoll Fruit-Doves (Ptilinopus coralensis) are small, brightly colored birds that are found exclusively in the Pacific Islands.

These birds exhibit unique behaviors, ranging from locomotion to sexual behavior. In this article, we will explore in detail the behavior, breeding, demography, and populations of the Atoll Fruit-Dove.



Atoll Fruit-Doves exhibit both arboreal and terrestrial locomotion. They are skilled climbers and are highly adapted for arboreal movement.

These birds are known for their ability to climb trees to obtain food, perching in a variety of positions. The Atoll Fruit-Doves can also be seen walking on the ground, using their strong legs to move quickly and easily.


Atoll Fruit-Doves are very clean birds and are known to spend significant amounts of time preening and grooming their feathers. This behavior is critical for maintaining the insulation qualities of their feathers, which is essential for their thermoregulation.

These birds also bath frequently to remove any dirt and debris from their plumage.

Agonistic Behavior

Atoll Fruit-Doves display agonistic behavior, particularly during mating and competition. This behavior is typically displayed using visual cues such as wing trembling and showing the nape.

The birds can also produce rapid grunting sounds or aggressive coos to signify their dominance or aggression. These displays are commonly seen in male-male contests for territorial dominance or breeding rights.

Sexual Behavior

Atoll Fruit-Doves are socially monogamous and generally form pair bonds that last for the breeding season. During the breeding season, males will perform courtship displays that involve visual and vocal cues.


Atoll Fruit-Doves nest solitarily, with males building several nests per season. These nests are shallow and cup-shaped, and made of twigs, bark, and other plant materials.

The breeding season begins in June and extends till around January, with the peak breeding period being in October. Females lay one egg per clutch and incubate for around 14 days, while the male provides care and protects the nest.

Demography and Populations

Atoll Fruit-Doves are generally considered stable, with a population estimated to be over 500,000 individuals. However, some subspecies of Atoll Fruit-Doves are considered threatened due to habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species, and overhunting.

The P. c.

pelewensis subspecies in Palau has been listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation efforts have been underway in some areas to help protect Atoll Fruit-Doves.

This includes the establishment of protected areas, eradication of invasive species, and the reforestation of degraded areas.


Atoll Fruit-Doves are fascinating birds that display a range of interesting and unique behaviors. From their unique foraging habits and vocalizations to their mating displays and social behavior, they are a key part of the ecology and biodiversity of the Pacific Islands.

Although they face several conservation threats, researchers and conservationists continue to work to preserve these birds, maintain their habitats, and protect their populations. With continued attention to scientific research and the implementation of effective conservation efforts, the Atoll Fruit-Dove can continue to thrive and play an essential role in the ecosystems of the Pacific.

Atoll Fruit-Doves are colorful, unique birds that are endemic to the Pacific Islands. This article has explored the different aspects regarding these birds, including their habitat, movements and migrations, diet and foraging habits, behavior, breeding, and demography and populations.

The significance of these birds lies in their crucial role in the ecological health and biodiversity of the Pacific Islands. Although they face several conservation threats, research and conservation efforts aim to preserve these

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