Category Archives: 3.4. Birds

Chloridops kona Wilson

Kona Grosbeak (Chloridops kona)

The Kona Grosbeak was discovered at the end of the 19th century, at that time it was restricted to a tiny, only about 10 km² large area in the north of the Kona district on the island of Hawai’i.

This rather plump and inconspicuous looking bird fed almost exclusively on the dried seeds of the Naio tree (Myoporum sandwicense (A. Gray)), and could often be located by the cracking sound of its feeding.

R. C. L. Perkins was one of the few people, that saw the bird in life, he wrote about it in the year 1893.:

The Palila (Chloridops kona), though an interesting bird on account of its peculiar structure, is a singularly uninteresting one in its habits. It is a dull, sluggish, solitary bird, and very silent – its whole existence may be summed up in the words “to eat.” Its food consists of the seeds of the fruit of the aaka (bastard sandal-tree [Myoporum sandwicense (A. Gray)], and probably in other seasons of those of the sandal-wood tree), and as these are very minute, its whole time seems to be taken up in cracking the extremely hard shells of this fruit, for which its extraordinarily powerful beak and heavy head have been developed. I think there must have been hundreds of the small white kernels in those that I examined. The incessant cracking of the fruits when one of these birds is feeding, the noise of which can be heard for a considerable distance, renders the bird much easier to see than it otherwise would be. … I never heard it sing (once mistook the young Rhodacanthis’ song for that of Chloridops), but my boy informed me that he had heard it once, and its song was not like that of Rhodacanthis. Only once did I see it display any real activity, when a male and female were in active pursuit of one another amongst the sandal-trees. Its beak is nearly always very dirty, with a brown substance adherent to it, which must be derived from the sandal-tree.

Note, that the name Palila is actually the Hawaiian vernacular name for another drepanidine bird species – Loxioides bailleui (Oustalet).

The last living Kona Grosbeaks were seen in the year 1894.

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References:

[1] R. C. L. Perkins: Notes on Collecting in Kona. The Ibis 6(5): 101-111. 1893
[2] D. Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
[3] H. D. Pratt; P. L. Bruner; D. G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987
[4] E. Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987
[5] H. D. Pratt: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005

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Depiction from: ‘W. Rothschild: The Avifauna of Laysan and the neighbouring islands with a complete history to date of the birds of the Hawaiian possession. 1893-1900’

by courtesy of Erin Clements Rushing

http://www.sil.si.edu

Ptilinopus goodwinii Holyoak

Lilac-crowned Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus goodwinii)

Distribution:

Cook Islands: ‘Atiu, Ma’uke

local names:

kukupa – ‘Atiu / Cook Islands

***

This Lilac-crowned Fruit Dove is officially treated as a subspecies of the Rarotongan Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus rarotongensis Hartlaub & Finsch) from the island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands, yet differs quite much from that species and can be separated as a distinct species.

The species is now restricted to the island of ‘Atiu, Cook Islands, but another subspecies, not yet formally described, formerly inhabited the neighboring island of Ma’uke.

***

Historical records of fruit doves from the islands of Aitutaki and Mangaia, Cook Islands, are most likely best regarded as distinct species as well.

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edited: 01.01.2019

Pomarea gambieranus (Lesson)

Mangarevan Flycatcher (Pomarea gambieranus)

This very enigmatic bird was found in the year 1840 on the island of Mangareva, the largest of the Gambier Islands, and was described in the year 1844 as Lanius gambieranus.

The sole known specimen does not exist anymore, as does the only depiction of this specimen. The description is not very meaningful, the bird had a size of 14 cm, was brown on the upper side, yellowish colored on the underside.

~~~

In my opinion, it is quite possible that this is indeed a monarch flycatcher species, possibly from the genus Pomarea or alternatively from another, yet completely distinct, now extinct genus.

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References:

[1] J.-C. Thibault; A. Cibois: From early Polynesian settlements to present: bird extinctions in the Gambier Islands. Pacific Science 66(3): 1-26. 2011

Ducula galeata (Bonaparte)

Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon (Ducula galeata)

For a very long time this bird was thought to be endemic to the Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva – this, however, turned out to be far from the truth.

In fact, in historical times this species had a much wider geographical range, including the Cook Islands, as well as the Society Islands, and of course all of the Marquesan Islands as well. The birds were extirpated from most of their former range already by the Polynesian settlers, and had their last refuge on the island of Nuku Hiva – a situation that is called artificial endemism (… in fact, there are several other bird species within Polynesia that share the same situation …).

The Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon is a huge bird, reaching about 55 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail, it is therefore the largest surviving pigeon species in Polynesia.

Nevertheless the bird is far from being flightless.

The endangered species was reintroduced to another of the Marquesasn islands, Ua Huka, were it is breeding since, and the future of this impressive species seems to be a good and save one.

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Photo: Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge); by courtesy of Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/virginieetfabien

Petrochelidon ariel (Gould)

Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel)

The Fairy Martin is native to Australia, where it inhabits open country near water, and is usually seen near its nest sites in cliffs, culverts, or bridges. The birds nest in colonies, the nests are distinctive large bottle-shaped constructions of mud pellets, built against the wall or ceiling of a cave, a cliff, or a building. [1]

~~~

The Fairy Martin is mentioned here because it appears to have bred, at least one time, in New Zealand (two distinctive bottle-shaped nests were found in shed near Lake Wairarapa in the 1970s).

The species increasingly wanders to New Zealand, and it may again breed there in the future. [1]

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References:

[1] B. D. Heather; H. A. Robertson; D. J. Onley: Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Oxford University Press, USA 1997

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petrochelidon-ariel-jb

Photo: Jim Bendon

(under creative commons licence (2.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

Acrocephalus aequinoctialis (Latham)

Kiribati Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis)

The 16 cm long Kiribati Reed-Warbler is the only (recent) resident passerine bird in Kiribati, all other passerines possibly seen there are winter visitors.

The species can be split into two subspecies (in fact they may even represent three – but this need further investigation), both show a grey and white plumage and differ only slightly from each other.

The Kiribati Reed-Warbler was first described in 1790 from the giant atoll of Kiritimati, where its total population today is estimated at only 300 to 400 birds.

Another form was discovered in 1881 on the small atoll of Tabuaeran, 224 km northwest of Kiritimati, it was described as a distinct subspecies (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor Tristram) in 1883, but was last seen in the year 1924, and is now considered extinct.

Again, another form was discovered in 1921 on the island of Teraina, 120 km northwest of Tabuaeran, and this was subsequently assigned to the ssp. pistor (but may indeed by a distinct third subspecies).

In Kiribati this bird is called bokikokiko resp. kokikokiko.

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acrocephalus-a-pistor-ibis

Tabuaeran Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor)

Depiction from: ‘H. B. Tristram: On the Position of the Acrocephaline Genus Tatare, with the Descriptions of two new species of the Genus Acrocephalus. The Ibis 5(1): 38-46. 1883′

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

Pomarea fluxa Murphy & Mathews

Eiao Flycatcher (Pomarea fluxa)

The Central Polynesian flycatcher species are all restricted to native forests, they inhabit small territories, which they aggressively defend against congeners, including their own offspring.

All these species lay only a single egg, which, of course, is very vulnerable to predation by introduced rats.

The few still existing species are all close to extinction, and perhaps many species are already extinct without leaving even a single trace of their former existence! The islands of Aitutaki, ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, and Rarotonga in the Cook Archipelago for example, as well as Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Tahiti, and Taha’a in the Society Archipelago may once all have had local species of the genus Pomarea, yet only three of them are definitively known!

~~~

This species, the Eiao Flycatcher, as its name implies, inhabited the island of Eiao in the north of the Marquesas Archipelago. It was described in the year 1928, and was considered a subspecies of the Iphis Flycatcher (Pomarea iphis (Murphy & Mathews)) from the island of Ua Huka for a long time, which, in a geographical context, makes not much sense.

The bird reached a size of about 17 cm, the sexes differed in their coloration, the males had a black head and neck and black wings, the back and the throat were mottled black and white, while the females were brownish above and whitish below, with the throat heavily streaked brown.

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References:

[1] H. D. Pratt; P. L. Bruner; D. G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987

Alopecoenas nui (Steadman)

Giant Ground Dove (Alopecoenas nui)

The Giant Ground Dove is known only from subfossil bones which were found on the islands of Mangaia, Cook Islands; Kamaka, Gambier Islands; Hiva Oa, Tahuata and Ua Huka, Marquesas as well as Huahine, Society Islands.

The species was sympatric on the Cook-, Gambier- and Society Islands with the smaller Polynesian Ground Dove (Alopecoenas erythroptera (Gmelin)) and on the Marquesan Islands with the Marquesas Ground Dove (Alopecoenas rubescens (Vieillot)), and perhaps with additional, yet extinct species.

The Giant Ground Dove was no true giant, but was still larger than all its Polynesian congeners, reaching a size of about 36 cm.

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006
[2] Jean-Claude Thibault; Alice Cibois: From early Polynesian settlements to present: bird extinctions in the Gambier Islands. Pacific Science 66(3): 1-26. 2011
[3] Knud A. Jønsson; Martin Irestedt; Rauri C. K. Bowie; Les Christidis; Jon Fieldså: Systematics and biogeography of Indo-Pacific ground-doves. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59: 538-543. 2011

Nesofregetta fuliginosa (Gmelin)

Polynesian Storm-Petrel (Nesofregetta fuliginosa)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa
Cook Islands: Mangaia
Fiji:
Gambier Islands: Manui, Motu Teiku
Kiribati: Kiritimati, McKean, Rawaki
Marquesas: Ua Huka
Rapa Nui: Motu Motiro Hiva

local names:

kitai – Marquesas
korue – Tahanea / Tuamotu Archipelago
taio – Samoa
te bwebwe ni marawa – Phoenix Islands / Kiribati

***

This species is endemic to the tropical Pacific where it breeds in parts of Melanesia (Vanuatu) well into eastern Polynesia, it is, however, mostly seen far away from its breeding grounds at sea where it searches for food.

The Polynesian Storm-Petrel is an about 25 cm large seabird, of which several color morphs are known to exist of which some were even considered to represent distinct species in former times, for example a remarkably dark morph that appears to be restricted to Samoa was formerly named as Samoan Storm-Petrel.

The species appears to prefer to breed on smaller, uninhabited islands where it is still quite rare, the breeding population on the island of Rawaki, Kiribati, for example, consits of only about 20 pairs. One of the largest known populations with about 100 birds breeds on the small and uninhabited Motu Motiro Hiva (Sala y Gómez). [1][3]

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References:

[1] Government of Kiribati: Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati, Nomination for a World Heritage Site 2009
[2] S. Waugh; J. Champeau; S. Cranwell; L. Faulquier: Seabirds of the Gambier Archipelago, French Polynesia, in 2010. Marine Ornithology 41: 7-12. 2013
[3] Marcelo A. Flores, Roberto P. Schlatter; Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete: Seabirds of Easter Island, Salas y Gómez Island and Desventuradas Islands, southeastern Pacific Ocean. Latin american Journal of Aquatic Research 42(4): 752-759. 2014

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Photo: Diego Valverde
https://www.inaturalist.org/people/diego_valverde

(under creative commons license (4.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

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edited: 20.12.2018

Megavitiornis altirostris Worthy

Deep-billed ‘Megapode’ (Megavitiornis altirostris)

This enigmatic extinct species, described in 2000 from subfossil remains, is in fact not a megapode but a member of a not well known family, the Sylviornitidae, whose only other member is the likewise enigmatic and extinct New Caledonian Giant ‘Megapode’ (Sylviornis neocaledoniae Poplin) from New Caledonia.

The Deep-billed ‘Megapode’ was a large, flightless bird, that probably fed particularely on plants and invertebrates, and is so far known only from the island of Viti Levu, Fiji.

The species of course was a very rewarding target for the first human settlers and hunters on the Fijian Islands, and thus was very fast wiped out by them. [1][2]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006
[2] Trevor H. Worthy; Miyess Mitri; Warren D. Handley; Michael S. Y. Lee; Atholl Anderson; Christophe Sand: Osteology supports a stem-galliform affinity for the giant extinct flightless bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres). PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150871. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150871. 2016

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edited: 22.04.2016

Charmosyna amabilis (Ramsay)

Red-throated Lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis)

This small, mainly green colored bird is deemed to be the rarest parrot of the Fiji Islands, where it formerly inhabited the islands of Ovalau, Taveuni, Vanua Levu, and Viti Levu.

The bird reached a size of 18 cm, its biology is virtually unknown, the same applies for its breeding behavior, the size of the clutch and similar data.

The Red-throated Lorikeet is, resp. was known to the natives of the Fijian islands by several names, including Mihi (?), Kula, Kulawai, and Talaki ni medra wai na kula.

The species was last found only in the higher regions at Mt. Tomanivi on the island of Viti Levu, the largest of the Fijian Islands, where it was last recorded in the year 1993.

The Red-throated Lorikeet is now most probably extinct.

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References:

[1] E. L. Layard: Notes on the Birds of the Navigators’ and Friendly Islands, with some Additions to the Ornithology of Fiji. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 490-506. 1876
[2] H. Douglas Pratt, Phillip L. Bruner, Delwyn G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987
[3] Tony Juniper; Mike Parr: Parrots; A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press 1998
[4] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006

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charmosyna-amabilis-gdr-om

Depiction from: ‘G. D. Rowley: The Birds of the Fiji Islands. Ornithological Miscellany 1: 259-262. 1876’

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

Egretta sacra (Gmelin)

Pacific Reef-Egret (Egretta sacra ssp. sacra)

The Pacific Reef-Egret is an about 60 cm large, rather short-legged egret, that lives predominantly in coastal areas.

The birds occur in mangrove-filled estuaries or along rocky shores, where they feed on small fish, mollusks and crustaceans.

The nominate race of this species occurs from South and Southeast Asia to Australia and into almost the whole pacific region (with the exception of New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, where the ssp. albolineata (G. R. Gray) occurs).

In some regions of Polynesia the Pacific Reef-Egret is nowadays the only surviving of the native bird species.

There are three color morphs, dark slate grey colored birds, pure white birds as well as an intermediate phase that is mottled white with dark slate grey. It is a somewhat strange fact, that in some areas, for example New Zealand and Samoa, only birds of one of these morphs (in both cases the dark morph) are breeding, while in other places all three morphs live together.

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egretta-s-sacra-ps

Photo: Phil Swanson; by courtesy of Ross Silcock

http://www.rosssilcock.com

Drepanis coccinea (Forster)

Iiwi (Drepanis coccinea)

The Iiwi belongs to the group of the so called drepanidine finches, a radiation of the Finch family, which is distributed exclusively on the Hawaiian archipelago and which has produced at least seventy species, of which, however, most have unfortunately been extirpated nowadays.

Even the Iiwi, which in the 20th century was still one of the most common of the surviving drepanidine finches, and which occured on all of the Hawaiian main islands, is now rare and has actually already disappeared from some of the islands (Lana’i, Ni’ihau).

The bird, which particularly feeds on nectar, is about 15 cm long and therefore belongs to the middle sized species within the group, the sexes are identical in color.

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drepanis-coccinea-fks

immature bird

drepanis-coccinea-fks1

adult bird

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Photos: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

Chroicocephalus utunui (Steadman)

Polynesian Gull (Chroicocephalus utunui)

This species was described in the year 2002 on the basis of very good preserved bones, which were found on the island of Huahine.

The species was certainly once distributed through the whole Society Archipelago.

The next relatives are the Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae (Stephens)) from Australia as well as the Black-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus bulleri (Hutton)), and the Red-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus scopulinus (J. R. Forster)) from New Zealand.

~~~

The species disappeared about 700 to 1200 A.D., thus shortly after the colonization of the island by Polynesians – resp., if one will trust very vague hints in a travel account from the year 1834, maybe actually as recently as during the middle of the 19th century.

~~~

Quite interesting in this context is the description of two gull species (Gavia pomarre Bruch in the year 1853 and Gavia pomare Bruch in the year 1855), which are supposed to come from the Society Islands, but which later (1887 and 1896) were identified as a juvenile Silver Gull and a juvenile Black-billed Gull, respectively.

The original material was lost during the World War II, and only drawings of the primaries and the heads (see depiction) are left.

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References:

[1] F. Debell Bennett: Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the globe, from the year 1833 to 1836. Comprising Sketches of Polynesia, California, the Indian Archipelago, etc. with an account of southern whales, the sperm whale fishery, and the natural history of the climates visited. London, Richard Bentley 1840
[2] D. W. Steadman: A New Species Of Gull (Laridae: Larus) From An Archaeological Site On Huahine, Society Islands. Proceedings of The Biological Society of Washington Band 115: 1–17. 2002
[3] D. W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006

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larus-pomarre-jo

the enigmatic species Gavia pomarre or Larus pomarre

Depiction from: ‘C. F. Bruch: Monographische Uebersicht der Gattung Larus Lin. Journal für Ornithologie. 1(2): 96-108. 1853’

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

Aplonis ulietensis (Gmelin)

Ulieta Starling (Aplonis ulietensis)

The Ulieta Starling, better known as Bay Thrush or Ulieta Thrush, is still one of the biggest mysteries of the ornithological world.

The species is known only on the basis of a drawing which was produced by Georg Forster in 1774 (?), as well as from the appertaining description.

The bird was originally – under reserve – described as thrush (Turdidae), but was subsequently associated with the Honeyeater family (Meliphagidae).

Actually, it may have been a starling, because very similar starling species are well known to occur / have occurred on other, adjacent islands within Central Polynesia (only a single species, the Rarotonga Starling (Aplonis cinerascens Hartlaub & Finsch), is extant), while the other two bird families are not known from that geographical region, neither from historical specimens nor by subfossil remains.

~~~

The Ulieta Starling died out sometimes during the 18th century – or – did it survive until the 19th century?

“Some of the land birds which inhabit the more interior and elevated woods have a varied and gaudy plumage; while others, with a more sombre garment, possess a melodious voice, not unlike that of our thrush or blackbird; but neither kind is sufficiently numerous to repay the exertions of the sportsman or ornithologist.”

from: ‘Frederick Debell Bennett: Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the globe, from the year 1833 to 1836.’

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References:

[1] Frederick Debell Bennett: Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the globe, from the year 1833 to 1836. Comprising Sketches of Polynesia, California, the Indian Archipelago, etc. with an account of southern whales, the sperm whale fishery, and the natural history of the climates visited. London, Richard Bentley 1840
[2] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
[3] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987

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aplonis-ulietensis-forster

Depiction: Georg Forster, 1774

(This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.)

Gallirallus huiatua Steadman, Worthy, Anderson & Walter

Niue Rail (Gallirallus huiatua)

This species was described in the year 2000 on the basis of subfossil bone remains.

The Niue Rail was slightly smaller than the Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis ssp. goodsoni Mathews), which still inhabits Niue, but unlike the Buff-banded Rail, the Niue Rail was flightless.

The species was extirpated by the Polynesian inhabitans of the island at around 1500 A.D..

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman, Trevor H. Worthy, Atholl J. Anderson, Richard Walter: New species and records of birds from prehistoric sites on Niue, Southwest Pacific. The Wilson Bulletin 112(2): 165-186. 2000
[2] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006

Ptilinopus chrysogaster Gray

Golden-bellied Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus chrysogaster)

Distribution:

Society Islands: Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Ra’iatea, Taha’a

local names:

u’upa – Society Islands

***

This species, officially considered a subspecies of the Grey-green Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus purpuratus (Gmelin)) from Mo’orea and Tahiti, Society Islands, inhabits the leeward islands of the same archipelago, namely the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Ra’iatea and Taha’a.

The species has a much brighter yellow belly and a much brighter pink coloured cap (not visible in the depiction).

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ptilinopus-chrysogaster-jmg

Depiction from: ‘Journal des Museum Godeffroy 1. 1873’

(public domain)

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edited: 01.01.2019

Myzomela jugularis Peale

Orange-breasted Honeyeater (Myzomela jugularis)

The about 10 cm long Orange-breasted Honeyeater is the smallest breeding bird of the Fijian Islands.

The bird occurs on all islands of the archipelago (with the exception of Rotuma), where it is quite common. It can be found in all kind of habitats, including village gardens and town parks, wherever flowers are to be found.

The sexual dimorphism is not as well-marked as in other species of the genus.

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References:

[1] H. Douglas Pratt; Phillip L. Bruner; Delwyn G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, 1987

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myzomela-jugularis-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

Paroreomyza montana (Wilson)

Alauwahio (Paroreomyza montana)

The prehistoric ancestor of the Alauwahio inhabited the island of Maui Nui, a giant landmass, that began to disintegrate about 800000 years ago, to form the islands we know today as Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, Maui and Moloka’i.

These islands harbored, and still harbor, many species that are not shared with the other Hawaiian islands.

It seems that every single island of the previously connected landmass of Maui Nui once had its own Alauwahio subspecies, two of which are known historically, with only one of them, the Maui Alauwahio (Paroreomyza montana ssp. newtoni (Rothschild)), surviving until today, while the nominate subspecies from the island of Lana’i is extinct. A third subspecies seems to have lived on the island of Molokai, as subfossil bones indicate.

~~~

The two forms from Lana’i and Maui differ from each other only slightly in their coloration, with the Lanai birds being somewhat more yellowish on the upper side.

Scott Wilson, the discoverer of the Lana’i subspecies, wrote about it in the year 1890.:

“However, at a point called Lanaihale, on our return journey, I caught sight of a bright yellow bird in an ohia bush, a few yards down the side of the gulch: I put my gun instantly on my shoulder and fired, down came the bird … Its breast was of a brilliant yellow, far brighter in tint than the plumage of any other species I have as yet obtained; its legs and bill were a light pink; in dissecting it I found some small larvae.”

When searching for insects, the Lanai Alauwahio hopped quickly around branches and twigs of the trees, examined the layer of epiphytic lichen and mosses, inserted its beak into crevices in the bark, and uncovered its prey by chopping pieces of bark.

The sighting of a pair in the year 1937 is considered the last verified record for this subspecies.

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References:

[1] S. Wilson: On some Birds of the Sandwich Islands. The Ibis 6(2): 170-196. 1890
[2] D. Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
[3] H. D. Pratt: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005

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paroreomyza-m-montana-ecr

nominate race

Depiction from: ‘W. Rothschild: The Avifauna of Laysan and the neighbouring islands with a complete history to date of the birds of the Hawaiian possession. 1893-1900’

by courtesy of Erin Clements Rushing

http://www.sil.si.edu

Myzomela nigriventris Peale

Black-bellied Honeyeater (Myzomela nigriventris)

The Black-bellied Honeyeater is still regarded as a subspecies of the Cardinal Honeyeater (Myzomela cardinalis (Gmelin)), which, in view of the distribution of these two species, makes no sense.

In fact this bird is an endemic species of the Samoan Islands. It, however, seems to be restricted to the three largest islands, Savai’i, Tutuila and ‘Upolu, where it is nevertheless very common and can even be found in settled areas.

The Black-bellied Honeyeater is about 12 to 13 cm in length, and shows an conspicuous sexual dimorphism, the males being brightly black and red in colour, while the females are brownish.

The bird feeds on nectar, but takes also various insects and other small invertebrates like snails etc..

The Samoan name of the bird is segasegamau’u. [1]

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References:

[1] Ulf Beichle; Sabine Baumann: Die Landvögel der Samoa-Inseln. Übersee-Museum Bremen 2003

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myzomela-nigriventris-tt

Photo: Tavita Togia
http://www.inaturalist.org/people/tavita_togia2016

(under creative commons license (4.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

 

Lamprolia victoriae Finsch

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae)

The Silktail is restricted to the island of Taveuni.

The birds inhabit the dense understory of the rainforests and frequently visit the forest floor in search for small insects, where they, because of their dull colouration, are very hard to detect. While hopping araound the forest floor, the birds repeatedly flick and close their wings, showing the bright white feathers of their rumps, which clearly have a signal effect.

The Fijian name of the Silktail is sisi resp. tuti.

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The Silktail has been placed in various bird families (including the birds of paradise (Paradisaeidae), the monarch flycatchers (Monarchidae), and most recently the fantails (Rhipiduridae)), however, gene analytical studies have proven that the species has a common ancestor with a bird from New Guinea, the Pygmy Drongo (Chaetorhynchus papuensis Meyer), and that it should best be placed within its own family.

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References:

[1] B. D. Heather: The Vanua Levu Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae kleinschmidti): a preliminary look at its status and habits. Notornis 24(2): 94-128. 1977
[2] Martin Irested; Jérome Fuchs; Knud A. Jønsson; Jan I. Ohlson; Eric Pasquet; Per G. P. Pasquet: The systematic affinity of the enigmatic Lamprolia victoriae (Aves: Passeriformes)-An example of avian dispersal between New Guinea and Fiji over Miocene intermittent land bridges?. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48(3): 1218–1222. 2008

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lamprolia-victoriae-om

Depiction from: ‘G. D. Rowley: The Birds of the Fiji Islands. In: Ornithological Miscellany 2(5): 23-39. London: Trübner and Co., Bernard Quaritch, R. H. Porter 1876’

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