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Manu Minute: The Last Kaua?i ????

Robert Shallenberger

Special thanks to the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use of their recordings in today's Manu Minute.

The Kaua?i ???? was once commonplace. Its melodic call of oo-oo, for which it is named, could be heard throughout the subtropical forests of the Garden Isle into the early twentieth century. But by the 1980s, only a single pair of Kaua?i ???? remained. The male, who likely lost his mate during Hurricane Iwa in 1983, was last recorded in 1987. His solitary song was not only the final call of his species, but also of an entire lineage of birds unique to the Hawaiian islands.

The Kaua?i ???? was one of four species in the ??? genus, each named after the island where they could be found.

The O?ahu ???? and the Molokai ???? were last sighted in 1837 and 1904, respectively. Predation and habitat loss caused by introduced species likely contributed to their extinction.

The Hawai?i ???? was the largest of these species, with black and yellow tail feathers that could measure up to seven and a half inches. The Hawai?i ???? was thus coveted for its lovely plumage, and the bird was hunted extensively in the latter half of the 19th century. It was last recorded on the slopes of Mauna Loa in 1934.

The ???? were closely related to another endemic genus of birds, the kioea. Little is known about the elusive kioea, which likely became extinct in 1859. Together, the ???? and the kioea comprised a unique avian family, Mohoiade. All members of Mohoiade are now gone — they are among at least twenty-five birds and countless other endemic Hawaiian species that we have irrevocably lost in the last two hundred years.

Read or hear more about the birds of Hawai?i on our Manu Minute page.


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