Marianas Island Megapode
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|Marianas Island Megapode|
|Species:||M. laperouse laperouse|
|Megapodius laperouse laperouse|
The Marianas Island Megapode or Megapodius laperouse laperouse, is a subspecies of the Micronesian Megapode. It is a very rare and localized bird that is in danger of disappearing.
No birds were found by collection groups from the US Naval medical units on the islands of Guam, Rota, Saipan, or Tianian. They have been thought to be extirpated on these islands since the 1950s but were never very common even before human colonization. The Marianas Island Megapode preferred low, outlying islands. Dogs, cats, pigs, and rats are all believed to have led to the downfall of this species throughout most of the islands. Along with increased predation, during the Japanese take over of the islands of Saipan and Tinian, almost the entire surface vegetation of both islands was burnt away and replaced by large farms of sugar cane.
It seems that the only way for the species to be safe is to protect a few small islands and release a small population of megapodes there. That way, a safe population is secured. On the larger and higher islands, an increase of people and introduced pests will sooner or later destroy any megapode populations.
The bird is still to be found on Marianas Island, but has been previously recorded on the islands of Asuncion, Agrihan, Pagan, Agiguan, Almagan, and are extinct on Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam. These birds are found in small groups in thickets and the scrublands found on low tropical islands in the region, however they are also found more inland on the hills and even on the mountain of the island. In locations like these, they make large mounds of debris and the lay their eggs inside it.
The Marianas Island Megapode is a dark bird about the size of a small hen, it is seen scurrying around in the underbrush. The back and belly is black, the wings, tail and rump are brown, with a small not noticeable gray crest on its head. The bill is yellow or orangewith the legs and feet are yellow and black toes. The chick has the back and head brown. The wing and lower back is barred and is paler in color. The face, throat and belly are a pale yellow and the wings are colored with a tint of rufous.
The birds are known to creep around in the shadows of small trees and are not capable of flying for long distances. However it is an acclaimed runner and would be very hard to catch. During breeding season, just after the southeast monsoon comes in, the females make their mounds, however it is known that some individual females will lay their eggs togeather in the same mound. However the females do not use the same mound more than once and are swapped with different females. When the eggs hatch after one to two months later, the chicks will feed on only grass shots and insects. When they are disturbed they create a large commotion.
- Greenway, JR., James Cowan. Extinct and Vanishing Birds. 2. New York City: Dover Pubilcataions, 1967.