The Moluccan megapode Eulipoa wallacei inhabits forests of several Moluccan Islands (Indonesia). The birds only leave this habitat for the purpose of egg-laying in self-dug burrows on sandy beaches, where solar heat incubates the eggs. The eggs are collected, sold and consumed by local people, a tradition that is said to threaten the species’ existence. An intensive study was carried out in the periods June 1994 - June 1995 and January - May 1996 at one of the largest known communal nesting grounds, ‘Tanjung Maleo’ near Kailolo Village on Haruku Island and at nesting grounds on other islands. In close collaboration with the local people, reproduction data were obtained by daily counts of the number of collected eggs and fledged chicks. Experiments were carried out to establish the incubation period. Egg-laying behaviour was studied with nightvision equipment. The egg-laying interval, home range, inland habitat and provenance of the female birds were established by radio-tracking of nine individuals. Of the 36.263 eggs that were harvested in the 94/95 season (1 April-31 March) peak numbers (max. 211 eggs per night) were found in the dry season (October-March) when 68.4% of the total egg production is laid. 13.7 % of the total egg production was not found by the collectors. Of those eggs, 1.7% got lost otherwise and 12% resulted in fledglings. This apparently ensures (for the time being) enough offspring to keep the population in balance. The total egg-laying population of Tanjung Maleo was estimated at 4200 females. The average egg-laying interval was 13 days. Chicks fledged after an average incubation period of 74.2 days. A fledging percentage of 92.6 for reburied freshly laid eggs indicates good prospects for re-introduction of the species. Female birds were tracked down to South Seram and also appeared to be resident in the secondary forest and neglected cultivated areas of Central Haruku. Surveys to check the status of other known nesting grounds showed many old sites abandoned (e.g. Meti off Halmahera) or diminished numbers of egg-laying birds. Tanjung Maleo (Haruku) and Galela (NE-Halmahera) appeared to be the two remaining large nesting grounds, although on almost all Moluccan islands within the range of the species, medium sized nesting grounds, where substantial numbers of eggs are being laid, were found. New nesting localities were discovered on Buru (scattered along the north coast) and along the northern and southeastern coasts of Seram

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Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam

C.J. Heij, C.F.E. Rompas, & C.W. Moeliker. (1997). The biology of the Mollucan megapode Eulipoa wallacei (Aves, Galliformes, Megapodiidae) on Haruku and other Mollucan Islands; part 2: final report. Deinsea, 3(1), 1–120.