Family Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)


Shy Ground-dove (Alopecoenas stairi)


French: Gallicolombe de Stair German: Purpurschultertaube Spanish: Paloma perdiz de las Fiji
Other common names: Friendly Ground-dove, Tongan Ground-dove

Calœnas (Phlegœnas [sic]) Stairi

G. R. Gray

, 1856,



Probably most closely related to A. sanctaecrucis, and both have been included in a complex that also contains A. jobiensis, A. kubaryi, A. erythropterus and A. xanthonurus, as well as †A. salamonis; present species may be related, more distantly, to A. hoedtii, A. beccarii and A. canifrons. Type specimen was a bird from London Zoo of uncertain origin; some authorities have questioned designation of Samoa as type locality, suggesting Tonga as more probable origin, but limited series of specimens does not justify altering the designated locality, so birds from Fiji and Tonga are currently placed in race vitiensis; under alternative arrangement, Samoan populations were placed in a separate race samoensis. Birds in Wallis and Futuna Is sometimes placed in race vitiensis#R. Alternatively, species sometimes treated as monotypic#R. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. stairi (G. R. Gray, 1856) – Wallis and Futuna Is, Samoa (Savaii, Upolu, Aleipata Is) and American Samoa (Ofu, Olosega).
  • A. s. vitiensis (Finsch, 1872) – Fiji and Tonga (Vava’u; perhaps still on Ha’apai and Nomuka Groups).
  • Descriptive notes

    25–26 cm; 171 g. Mostly dark brown, with paler vinaceous brown head and breast shield; crown and nape grey; lower margin of breast cream-coloured; iridescent purple... read more


    Advertising call is a series of short even-pitched hoots, at a pace of c. 1·5 notes/second, which... read more


    Found in a variety of forest types, including lowland rain forest, bamboo thickets and gallery... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet varied, including seeds, fruit, buds, young leaves, insects and snails. Gizzard is thick and muscular, suggesting the ability to... read more


    Nests recorded Jul–Jan. An insubstantial nest of interwoven twigs, vine stems and rootlets, usually 1–3 m above the ground in a... read more


    Presumably sedentary. Prefers to escape by running rather than flying, but can fly swiftly and... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened. The global population is thought to be within the range of 3000–15,000 individuals. The species has been extirpated... read more

    Recommended citation

    Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W., Horblit, H.M., Christie, D.A., Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Shy Ground-dove (Alopecoenas stairi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 December 2019).