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GALLERIES > BIRDS > PASSERIFORMES > SYLVIIDAE > CHATHAM FERNBIRD [Bowdleria rufescens]


Chatham Fernbird Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Chatham Islands Fernbird (Bowdleria rufescens) is an extinct bird species endemic to Pitt Island and Mangere Island (which belong to the Chatham Islands). Its next living relatives are the Snares Fernbird (Bowdleria caudata) and the New Zealand Fernbird or Matata (Bowdleria punctata). Some scientists considered it as subspecies of the Matata and named it Bowdleria punctata rufescens or Megalurus punctatus rufescens but most others regarded it as full species. While most scientists classified it in its own genus Bowdleria other taxonomists (e.g. ITIS) synonymized it with the Australasian genus Megalurus. But this happened on the basis of an incomplete review of the evidence.

Description

It reached a length of 18 cm. It wings were 5.9 to 6.7 cm. In contrast to other fernbird species it had unspotted underparts, a chestnut brown crest, a distinct white loral spot, and a dark red-brown back. It was insectivorous but nothing more is known about its ecology.

Extinction

The first individual was discovered in 1868 by New Zealand naturalist Charle Traill on Mangare Island. He killed this bird with a stone and send this specimen to Sir Walter Buller who described it as new species in 1869. In 1871 the population was described as rather common on Mangare but reduced on Pitt Island. The reasons for its extinction were apparently the brush fires, the overgrazing by goats and rabbits and the predation by rats and feral cats. The last specimen was shot for a collection by Lionel Walter Rothschild in 1895 and it was regarded as extinct by 1900.

Museums specimens can be seen in Auckland, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berlin, Chicago, Christchurch, London, Liverpool, New York City, Paris, Pittsburgh and Stockholm.





                                     



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