On 6 January 2004, Tropical Cyclone Heta devastated much of the South Pacific island nation of Niue. The forest suffered extensive damage, particularly to the north-western sector, with many trees uprooted and others stripped of branches and foliage. Even though some patches of forest in the southeast sustained little damage, many lupe (Pacific pigeon, Ducula pacifica) and kulukulu (purple-crowned fruit dove, Ptilinopus porphyraceus) entered eastern villages in search of food and water after the cyclone, a very unusual behavior. This paper details our findings from a survey of some of Niue's forest birds carried out during September 2004 and compares these with results from a similar survey in September 1994. Five-minute point count data, an index of conspicuousness, from three transects showed that heahea (Polynesian triller, Lalage maculosa) were more abundant in 2004 than in 1994, that the results were variable from transect to transect for miti (Polynesian starling, Aplonis tabuensis) and kulukulu, but that significantly fewer lupe were detected along all three transects in 2004 than previously. We tentatively suggest that the decline in the lupe population was caused mainly by unsustainable human hunting during 1994–2004, rather than mortality caused by the cyclone.
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Vol. 62 • No. 4