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GALLERIES > BIRDS > TINAMIFORMES > TINAMIDAE > OU [Nothocercus bonapartei]

Ou Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The ???? (the name is pronounced like "oh-ooh") (Psittirostra psittacea), is a critically endangered bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian islands. There are no recent records, and it may be extinct.

Description

The ???? is a large, plump forest bird measuring 7 inches (18 cm) in length. Males have a bright yellow head, dark green back, and an olive-green belly. Females are duller with an olive-green head. The ???? has a pink, finch-like bill and pink legs.

Behavior

The breeding biology of this bird is unknown, although juveniles have been seen in June, suggesting a March to May breeding season. The ????'s call is an ascending or descending whistle that may break into a sweet and distinct canary-like song.

Its unique bill was apparently adapted for feeding on the fruits of the ?ie?ie vine, although when the fruiting season ended the ???? readily moved both up the slope and downslope in search of other foods, both native and introduced. In addition to fruits, it feeds on insects, and buds and blossoms of the ??hi?a. It was known to have been a nomadic forager that made strong flights to follow seasonally available fruit crops across a broad elevational gradient.

Status

Though it was formerly widespread on the six largest islands of that group, this Hawaiian honeycreeper declined precipitously from the turn of the 20th century. The last recorded sighting was in 1989 on Kaua?i. It is almost certainly extinct there, but unconfirmed reports occasionally are received from the areas above the K?lauea volcano on the Big Island (Hawaii Island). As a consequence, it is retained as critically endangered by BirdLife International (and thereby IUCN) until it is proven to be extinct beyond reasonable doubt. The largest and most secure population above Wai?kea were driven from its habitat in 1984 when the area was devastated by a lava flow from Mauna Loa. The ???? was restricted to the mid-elevation `ohi'a forests of the Big Island and the Alakai Swamp on Kaua?i. More recently it became restricted to ??hi?a forest.

The ???? is one of the most mobile species of Hawaiian honeycreepers. Although it was not very active and usually slow-moving, it had remarkable stamina and when flying, would cover great distances. It is one of the few Hawaiian endemics that did occur on all the major islands at one time and did not differentiate into subspecies, suggesting that birds crossed between islands on a regular basis. Also, there was considerable seasonal movement between different altitudes according to the availability of the species' favorite food, the bracts and fruit of the ?ie?ie. This probably was the species' undoing, as it thus came in contact with mosquitoes transmitting avian malaria and fowlpox, which are exceptionally lethal to most Hawaiian honeycreepers. Other significant threats to this species are habitat loss and introduced predators. Island species are particularly vulnerable to one or more of these threats because of their low numbers and restricted geographical distributions.

Protection

The ???? was listed as an endangered species in 1967 under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Kauai Forest Birds Recovery Plan was published in 1983 and the Hawaii Forest Birds Recovery Plan was published in 1984. These recovery plans recommend active land management, controlling the spread of introduced plants and animals, closely monitoring new land activity or development to prevent further destruction of forest bird habitat, and the establishment of captive propagation and sperm bank programs. The ???? was last seen in the `Ola`a area of the Big Island. Today this area is protected by a multiparty group including State, federal, and private entities.





                                     



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