Christopher Taylor Bird Nature Wildlife Mammal Photography
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Black Mamo Picture

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The Black Mamo was discovered in 1893 in the Pelekuna Valley, on the island of Molokai, where it was once found in the high forests of the peaks. There is fossil evidence of this species on the island of Maui. It was shot down many times for collections due to its appearance. Being eight inches long from tail tip to the end of is bill, it was a large bird, but was not as large as the former species of Mamo, the Hawaiian Mamo. It was shadowy black with faded white primaries. It had a long bill that was far more decurved than the last species however the males had longer bills then the females. It was seen with a faded colored forehead which was caused by the pollen of its favorite food, the Lobelia and as it dunked its head deep into the flower in search of nectar it would get covered. Its song was a group of nose whistles that sounded like a flute along with a long held out thrill. This bird has had many names including Hoa, the Hawaiian version, the Molokai Mamo, O'o nuku'umu, which meant "O'o with sucking beak", and the Perking's Mamo, which was given by the ornithologist Perkins who produced most of the information about this species.

It was apparently a very aloof bird as it would always visit and get close to people and was a low flier, never perching any higher than twelve feet above the ground, which would have been the down fall of this bird. It was also affected by the increase of cattle and deer which soon destroyed much of the understory habitat that this bird needed. It was also affected by the Indian Mongoose who was sent to catch the rats but chose to eat the birds instead. It was named Drepanis funerea by Perkins because it appeared to him to be a dark mourning bird. It also appeared to him that this bird would not last long as a species. He was certainly right about that. It was around for about fourteen years till around 1907 where the last one was shot but escaped with another Black Mamo. It last observed in 1907 by a collector, Alanson Bryan, who had shot three birds. Tim Flannery quoted him as having wrote, "To my joy I found the mangled remains hanging in the tree in a thick bunch of leaves, six feet or more beyond where it had been sitting." Even if Bryan did not shoot the last Black Mamo, the species is definitely extinct: most of the lowland forests of Moloka'i, the only habitat of the bird, have been felled to provide grazing land for cattle. Introduced rats, mongooses and avian malaria may have played significant roles in its decline and extinction as well. According to residents there were several still sighted, however even these reports stopped coming within a few years. One of the most largest scale searches for this bird was in 1936, and no specimens were detected, even in East Molokai where they were last seen. Preserved specimens of the Black Mamo include the ones at Bremen, Boston, Honolulu, London and New York. There are also several skins of this birds in collections. There may be specimens in private collections.


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