Species and Location

The Micronesian Megapode  is one of 13 species of mound-nesting birds in the genus Megapodius. Members of this family are characterised by their unusual nesting behaviour – they either lay their eggs in mounds of decaying vegetation or geothermal soils – both of which incubate their eggs for them!

More than half of Megapodius species occur on islands and are threatened by rats, chance events like typhoons, egg-collecting and habitat loss. A looming future threat is sea-level rise from climate change. Many low-lying Pacific islands are already being lost from rising sea levels, threatening the habitats of these unique birds.

The Micronesian Megapode occurs in the Northern Marianas Islands, and in Palau (sub-species senex). The Republic of Palau is located in the North Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and is part of the Micronesia region. In Palau, the megapodes are mostly distributed in the World Heritage listed Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, on the atoll of Kayangel and with small number on the main island of Babeldoab. The ecology of the Palauan sub-species is largely unknown.

Micronesian Megapodes have powerful legs and strong claws and forage in the forest understory for insects and small vertebrates. There is limited knowledge on their preferred breeding or feeding habitat, their nesting biology or their dispersal capacity. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

A Palau Megapode mound

A Palau Megapode mound. Pic: Rob Davis.

megapode

Palau Megapode roosting in a tree on Ulong Island. Pic: Belinda Davis.

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