Alopecoenas norfolkensis Forshaw, 2015:84

Norfolk Island ground(-)dove



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Columba norfolciensis Latham, 1801:60; Gallicolumba norfolciensis Latham, 1801:60


This species is no longer recognized by several authorities (e.g. Schodde et al. 2007; Schodde & Bock 2008; ICZN, 2010). Schodde and Bock (2008) have argued that because no type was assigned to fix Gallicolumba norfolciensis with the population of doves which formerly occupied Norfolk Island, the name is invalid under ICZN rules. The IUCN account for this species was also written in 2008 (BirdLife International, 2008), so it is unknown whether BirdLife International was aware of this article when it published the account. However, even if it was, the description of the female of Gallicolumba norfolciensis given by (Latham, 1801) matches that of the common emerald dove (Columba indica) (Hindwood, 1965; Schodde, 1997), so that only the male of the population to which the binomial G. norfolciensis has been applied, is known with certainty.

However, as the male of the species cannot be synonymized with any known species, nor can subfossil remains also found on Norfolk Island, I have retained G. norfolciensis (while emphasizing that it is a very controversial binomen) because it is almost certain that an endemic columbid, and possibly two if the subfossil and early reports were of two distinct species, became extinct around c.1790-1800 on Norfolk Island. Joseph Forshaw published a new description of this species (as Alopecoenas norfolkensis) based upon the painting by John Hunter (Forshaw, in Forshaw & Cooper, 2015:84).


Conservation Status

Extinct or invalid

Last record: 1790?; 1800 (Schodde et al. 1983)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct (formerly, now considered invalid)



Norfolk Island, Australia


Biology & Ecology







Above: Norfolk Island Ground Dove. Gallicolumba norfolciensis. From the series: Extinct Birds of New Zealand., 2004, Masterton, by Paul Martinson. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/55)



Original scientific description:

Forshaw, Joseph Michael and Cooper, William. (2015). Pigeons and Doves in Australia. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing. [Relevant pages]


Other references:

BirdLife International. (2012). Gallicolumba norfolciensis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. ( Downloaded on 24 August 2013.

Calaby, John (ed.). (1989). The Hunter sketchbook. Birds & flowers of New South Wales drawn on the spot in 1788, 89 and 90. By Captain John Hunter RN ofthe First Fleet. Natl. Library ofAustralia, Canberra.

Christidis, L. and Boles, Walter E. (1994). The taxonomy and species of birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, RAOU.

Dickinson, E. C. and Remsen, J. V. (Eds.) (2013). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 4th edition. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press.

Garnett, Stephen (ed.). (1992). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report Number 82. 212 pp.

Garnett, S. T. and Crowley, G. M. (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia & Birds Australia.

Goodwin, Derek. (1983). Pigeons and Doves of the World, third edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Higgins, P. J. and Davies, S. J. J. F. (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds vol 3: snipe to pigeons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hindwood, Keith A. (1965). John Hunter: a naturalist and artist of the First Fleet. [i]Emu[/i] [b]65[/b]: 83-95.

Historical Records of New South Wales. (1892). Sydney, Government Printer, 1892-1901.

Holdaway, R. N. and Anderson, A. J. 1998. 14C AMS dates on Rattus exulans bones from natural and archaeological contexts on Norfolk Island, South-west Pacific. Archaeology in New Zealand 41: 195-198.

Holdaway, R. N. & Anderson, A. 2001. Avifauna from the Emily Bay Settlement Site, Norfolk Island: a preliminary account. Rec. Australian Mus., suppl. 27: 85-100.

Holdaway, Richard N., Worthy, Trevor H. and Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2001). A working list of breeding bird species of the New Zealand region at first human contact. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28: 119-187.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser. 544 pp.

Hunter, John. (1793). An historical account of the transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, with the discoveries which have been made in New South Wales and in the Souther Ocean since the publication of Phillip's voyage, compiled from the official papers. London: John Stockdale.

ICZN. (2010). OPINION 2251 (Case 3442) Columba norfolciensis Latham, 1801 (Aves, COLUMBIDAE): name suppressed. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 67(2): 192‐193. [Abstract]

Kentish Gazette, June 6, 1789. Contains a letter written from Norfolk, mentioning the avifauna, including this species.

Latham, J. (1801). Supplementum Indicis Ornithologici, sive Systematis Ornithologiae. 74 pp. Leigh and J. & S. Sotheby, London.

McAllan, Ian A. W. (2007). Existing usage and the names of some Australian birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 127(2): 136-145.

Meredith, C. W. (1985). The vertebrate fossil fauna of Norfolk Island, and the phylogeny of the genus Pterodroma. Unpublished PhD thesis. Department of Earth Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

Rich, R, van Tets, G, Orth, K., Meredith, C. & Davidson, R 1983. Prehistory of the Norfolk Island biota. Pp. 7-29 in Schodde, R., Fullagar, P. & Hermes, N. (eds.) A review ofNorfolk Island birds: past and present. ANPWS Special Publ. No. 8. Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Schodde, Richard. (1997). Columbidae, pp. 9-63. In: Houston, W. W. K. and Wells, A. (Eds.). Zoological catalogue of Australia, vol. 37.2, Aves (Columbidae to Coraciidae). CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Schodde, Richard and Bock, Walter J. (2008). The avian species-group name Columba norfolciensis Latham, 1801 (Aves, Columbidae): proposed suppression. [i]Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature[/i] [b]65(2)[/b]: 124-128.

Schodde, R., Bock, W. J. and Steinheimer, F. D. (2007). Stabilising the nomenclature of Australasian birds by invalidation and suppression of disused and dubious names. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 127(4): 268-282.

Schodde, R., Fullagar, P. and Hermes, N. (1983). A review of the status of Norfolk Island birds: past and present. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Special Publication 8.

Schodde, R. & Mason, I. J. 1997. Zoological catalogue of Australia, vol. 37.2. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.


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