ANNOTATED LIST OF HAWAI'I'S EXTINCT BIRDS




Hawai'i has long been known as the extinction capital of the World - a rather dubious but unfortunately apt name. Evidence suggests that more than 45 species of birds became extinct after colonization by the Polynesians and since the arrival of Europeans two centuries ago at least another 25 species have been lost.

Why should so many species become extinct ?

The introduction of alien plant and animal species by the Polynesians, combined with landscape alterations, ensured that Hawaii would never be the same as it was when they first arrived in about A.D. 800. Introduction of alien species was rapidly accelerated once the islands were discovered by Europeans, starting with Captain Cook on January 18th 1778.

When Captain Cook arrived in the archipelago Europeans set free pigs, sheep, horses, cattle, cats, dogs and rodents. The indigenous flora and fauna were poorly adapted to survive the onslaught of these species, let alone the effects of man. In later years further introductions caused just as much havoc with introduced plants crowding out and successfully competing with the native flora. The native fauna was unable to cope with the many introduced species too, both from destruction of habitat and through direct losses from predation. Native species were forced higher into the native forest and into smaller and smaller areas of suitable habitat, in turn the populations of most species dwindled to just a few individuals which found it hard to maintain the numbers once occurring throughout the Islands. Many species which could once be found from sea level to the highest peaks withdrew to only the most inaccessible spots and quietly slipped into oblivion - never to be recorded again.

The main reasons for loss of species are:

1). Habitat destruction.

2). Competition for food and nesting spaces.

3). Disease from introduced species.

4). Disturbance of critical habitat.

5). Avian Malaria.

6). Isolated populations due to the above.

Extinction is a natural phenomenon which has been occurring since life first started on the planet, and many species were lost in Hawai'i for natural reasons, such as predation by other endemic species or climatic and environmental changes, but one can only imagine how many bird species would still be surviving in the Islands if man had not arrived and rampaged without thought.

In some cases the reason for extinction are extremely clear, such is the case with the Laysan Rail which could not survive on its remote and limited habitat after introduction of rabbits, which ate all the Island's vegetation, and introduction of rats, which preyed upon the tiny inhabitants - adults, chicks and eggs alike. In the case of some species such as Kamao and Kaua'i 'O'o, both from Kaua'i, the loss of habitat combined with avian disease and weather conditions spelled disaster for the species. In earlier times birds which had lived in higher native forest areas would move lower down into sheltered valleys during storms and hurricanes and ride-out the inhospitable winds. Unfortunately these sheltered and "safe" valleys are now infested with avian malaria-carrying mosquitoes and provide no refuge for native birds. It is likely that Hurricane Iwa in the early 1980's and Hurricane Iniki in the early 1990's, the two most powerful hurricanes ever to have hit Hawai'i, resulted in the final nail in the coffin for many of the critically endangered species which were just clinging on to existence.

Lele au la, hokahoka wale iho

I fly away, leaving disappointment behind

-- Hawaiian saying.

Although several of the species are mentioned elsewhere in the website, such as in the Hawai'i State List, due to the fact that they are extinct there is no practical information on them as there are no locations to observe them, and so details of each species can be hard to find.

The information for some species is only of casual interest, eg. Black Mamo, as this has long been confirmed extinct, however some species which have only presumed to have become extinct in recent years could still be surviving in some remote area and so information about those species is more relevant and could even result in the species re-discovery.

The following are all species which have become extinct in the Hawaiian Islands since 1800. Note that those species still possibly surviving are highlighted in RED.

All pictures below are by F.W. Frohawk ©, a famous Hawai'i bird collector and artist from the 19th Century, unless otherwise stated.


For anyone interested in reading detailed survey accounts of Hawaiian endemic forest birds "Evolution, Ecology, Conservation and Management of Hawaiian Birds: a vanishing avifauna" (Studies in Avian Biology #22) by J. Michael Scott, S. Conant and C. Van Riper is an essential reference and details survey work undertaken between in the Islands. It sadly highlights the exceptionally rapid decline of some species, such as O'u which was estimated to have a population of 385 (+/- 157 SE) during the 1970's and early 1980's but is now feared completely extinct.

Extinct since 1800
HAWAIIAN RAIL LANA'I HOOKBILL O'U
LAYSAN RAIL LESSER KOA FINCH LANA'I 'ALAUAHIO (LANA'I CREEPER)
LAYSAN MILLERBIRD GREATER KOA FINCH KAKAWAHIE (MOLOKA'I CREEPER)
KAMAO KONA GROSBEAK O'AHU 'ALAUAHIO (O'AHU CREEPER)
OLOMAO GREATER 'AMAKIHI O`AHU 'AKEPA
`AMAUI (O'AHU THRUSH) GREATER 'AKIALOA `ULA-`AI- HAWANE
O`AHU 'O'O LESSER 'AKIALOA HAWAI'I MAMO
BISHOP'S `O`O O'AHU NUKUPU'U BLACK MAMO
HAWAI'I `O`O KAUA'I NUKUPU'U LAYSAN HONEYCREEPER
KAUA'I 'O'O MAUI NUKUPU'U  
KIOEA HAWAI'I NUKUPU'U  
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HAWAIIAN RAIL (Porzana sandwichensis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to the Main Hawaiian Islands (historically Hawai'i and possibly Moloka'i).

Last Seen in 1884 (or possibly 1893).

Hawaiian name was MOHO. Moho probably meant a "small bird that crows in the grass".

A tiny , dark brown crake which inhabited grassy uplands near forests and forest clearings. The last haunts of this species were probably the slopes of the Kilauea Volcano and parts of the Ola'a district.
Adults were dark rusty brown with yellow bill and red legs. Juveniles were streaked on the back. (5 inches)

Calls: Presumably similar to Laysan Rail.
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LAYSAN RAIL (Porzana palmeri) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Laysan Island with an introduced population on Midway and an unsuccessful attempt at introduction to Pearl and Hermes Reef.

Last seen in 1944 on Eastern Island Midway.

Very small sized and flightless but extremely fast on the ground. Adults were brown above with black steaks. Underparts were gray on the breast and head with the crown like the back and the lower belly and undertail chestnut with white and black bars. Eye red. legs greeny. Bill yellow. Food items included insects and birds eggs. Finally succumbed to introduced rat predation and total eradication of vegetation by introduced rabbits. (6 inches)




In 1828 there were an estimated 2000 individuals on Laysan but only two survived by 1912. By 1936 there were none. Birds which had been relocated to Eastern Island (Midway) in 1891 and 1913 still survived at the start of World War II, as did a few released on Sand Island Midway. Individuals released on Lisianski had succumbed to the depletion of the vegetation and predation by rats like those individuals on Laysan. In 1943 a US Navy landing-craft drifted ashore and accidentally brought with it an invasion of rats to both Islands. By 1945 the Laysan Rail was extinct.



Rather ironically the rabbits were eradicated on Laysan and by 1945 the habitat was almost fully restored - by then however it was too late, the Laysan Rail had disappeared into oblivion forever.

The photograph here shows a Laysan Rail taken by Alfred M. Bailey in 1913. (Denver History Photo Archives. All rights reserved).

Calls: Frequently called in chorus at night with a pinging, rattling and warbling quality
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KAMAO (Myadestes myadestinus) Ex ?

Formerly Endemic to Kaua'i only.

Last seen in the early 1990's in the Alaka'i Swamp.

The largest native Thrush. Adults of this species was brown above and gray below with a shortish tail, thick gray bill (largest of all the Thrushes in Hawai'i) and dark eyes and legs. The forehead was brown, separating the species from Puaiohi (as well as leg color). Breast slightly mottled. Juveniles were brown above with paler feather edgings and below was pale gray or white with heavily scalloped breast and belly feathers. Undertail was yellowy. (8 inches)

Calls: Resembled a police whistle. Also a cat-like raspy higher pitched note than the 'Omao of Hawai'i Island. Song: A long, complex and flute-like melody of whistles, trills and liquid warbles.

The species was once one of the most common forest birds on Kaua'i and inhabited native forest in the Alaka'i Swamp region and Koke'e areas and was once quite widespread, preferring the higher more exposed areas (Puaiohi prefers stream beds and small valleys). In the late 20th Century the species numbers drastically declined and the population was limited to a few individuals in a small area just below the peak of Mount Waialeale. Despite extensive surveys in the 1990's the species was not located, despite having a loud and characteristic song, and is presumed to now be extinct - one of the most recent extinctions in Hawai'i.

Link: Kamao (Large Kauai Thrush
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OLOMAO (Myadestes lanaiensis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Moloka'i and Maui.

Historically on Maui and in the late 1980's on Moloka'i.

The only Thrush found on Moloka'i and Maui, this species in adult plumage resembled the Omao of Hawai'i but was whiter on the belly and had a pale buff patch on the wing at the base of the primaries. Juveniles were similar to juveniles of other Hawaiian thrushes, ie. scaled underparts. (7 inches)

Calls: A variety of calls including a catlike rasp. Song: A long, Thrush-like, somewhat halting melody, often with a ventriloquial quality.

The species inhabited native forest and remained largely hidden below the canopy, being extremely elusive and shy. The Mount Olokui area, Kamakou Preserve and the Ohialele Plateau were the last places the species was recorded (in 1988) on Moloka'i. Despite extensive searching in the 1990's the species has not been located and is presumed extinct.

Link: Olomao (Molokai Thrush
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LANA'I OLOMAO (LANA'I THRUSH) (Myadestes lanaiensis lanaiensis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Lana'i.

Last seen in 1933.

This bird was identical to the Olomao (above) but may have had a slightly different song and call. Habitat that the species utilised was the same as for Olomao. Sexes alike. (7 inches)

Calls: Presumably similar to Olomao. Song: Presumed to be melodious like the Olomao
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`AMAUI (O`AHU THRUSH) (Myadestes oahuensis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to O'ahu.

Last seen in the 1820's

The Hawaiian name 'AMAUI is a corruption of the name Manu a Maui (Island Thrush), which is the name once given to all the Hawaiian thrush species.

Little is known about this species which inhabited native forest on O'ahu. It appears to have been quite well-known by the Hawaiians but the only specimens that were ever collected were lost in historical times. Presumably birds were similar to the other Myadestes Thrushes of Hawai'i. Sexes alike. (c. 7 inches ?)

Calls: Probably like the other Thrushes of Hawai'i. Song: Presumably flute-like and melodious like the other Hawaiian Thrushes
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LAYSAN MILLERBIRD (Acrocephalus familiaris familiaris) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Laysan Island.

Became extinct between 1912 and 1923.

Plumage and behavior like the Nihoa Millerbird. Adults and juveniles were brown above and gray below with longish tail and slender bill similar to other Old World Warblers. Habitat used by this species was brushy areas and low vegetation where it fed on insects and miller moths. (5 inches)

Calls: Presumably similar to Nihoa Millerbird (A.F.kingi). Song: A thin metallic, energetic song, mainly heard during the breeding season.

The photograph shown here was taken by Walker K. Fisher in May 1902 ©. Photo from the Denver Museum of Natural History. (Denver History Photo Archives. All rights reserved).
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O`AHU 'O'O (Moho apicalis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to O'ahu.

Last seen in 1837.

The Hawaiian name 'O'O was an impression of the birds loud echoing call, "oh-oh".

The only O'o species on O'aho, nothing is known of its behavior or lifestyle.

A large glossy black species with bright yellow undertail forming an upright V onto the flanks. The tail was long with black and white under-feathers and black upper-feathers. The tip was white and rather ragged-looking. Thigh feathers were black. The bill was dark and slightly decurved.
Sexes alike. (c.12 inches)

Probably became extinct as a result of disease and predation, as well as habitat loss.

Calls and Song: Presumably similar to 'O'o on other Islands.
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BISHOP'S 'O'O (Moho bishopi) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Maui and Moloka'i.

Last seen on Molokai in in 1904 and supposedly rediscovered on Maui in 1981 after an absence of 80 years, but not recorded again since the early 1980's and presumed extinct.

The Hawaiian name 'O'O was an impression of the birds loud echoing call, "oh-oh". The name Bishop's 'O'o was named by Lord Rothschild for Charles R. Bishop, the founder of the Bishop Museum in Hawai'i.

Adults were black with paler streaking and yellow ear tufts, axillary plumes and undertail coverts, The bill was long and curved and the legs were black. The tail was black and tapering with two extended central tips. Sexes alike. (12 inches)

Song: A loud, echoing "oh-oh" with a flute-like quality.

The species inhabited native forest and fed in the upper canopy of dense rain on nectar. The last place the species was seen on Maui was in the forest on the NE slopes of Haleakala. Probably became extinct as a result of disease and predation, as well as habitat loss.
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HAWAI'I 'O'O (Moho nobilis) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i only.

Last seen in about 1934 on the slopes of Mauna Loa.

The Hawaiian name 'O'O was an impression of the birds loud echoing call, "oh-oh".

Similar to Bishop's 'O'o but with jet black glossy plumage and white outer tail feather bases. Also exhibited yellow axillary tufts and undertail like Bishop's 'O'o. Bill long and decurved. When perched the species apparently jerked its tail up and down.
Sexes alike. (12 inches)

Call / Song: A loud, harsh "oh-oh".

Habitats used by the species
were similar to the other 'O'o's.

Although rumours persisted in the early 1980's that the species was still in existence there have been no confirmed sightings and it is unlikely that the species is still extant. H.W. Henshaw (1903) recorded that "even as late as 1898 hunters took a thousand 'O'o's in the woods north of the Wailuku" (Fuller 2000). Probably became extinct as a result of disease and predation, as well as habitat loss.
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KAUA'I 'O'O (Moho braccatus) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Kaua'i.

Last seen in 1987 in the Alakai Swamp.

The Hawaiian name 'O'O 'A'A was an impression of the birds loud echoing call, "oh-oh". 'A'a is translated as "dwarf", presumably because this was the smallest 'O'o. "Glowing" is another translation and could refer to the species bright yellow thigh feathering.

The smallest of the 'O'o's this species was black with yellow thigh feathers, black legs, spotted white throat, white forewing patch and a pale eye. The bill was decurved but shorter than other 'O'o's.
Sexes alike. (8 inches)

Calls: Haunting flutelike "oak" or "keek-oh". Song: A variable hollow or echoing quality with a rising and falling pitch. Birds sometimes duetted with a "take-a-look-e now, take-a-look-e-now". Often considered one of the finest of Hawai'i's native singers. Song is reminiscent of the introduced Western Meadowlark.

The Kaua'i 'O'o was an active and aggressive bird that continually moved through the native forest in search of nectar from 'Ohi'a trees and other tree blossoms. It was also known to eat worms and grubs from bark and moss. It was last observed nesting in 1973 and the pair was last observed in 1981. The female vanished during Hurricane Iwa in the fall of 1983 and the male was last seen in 1985. It was last heard in 1987.

Despite prolonged and exhaustive searches this species has not been recorded since 1987. The last of the 'O'o's to be sighted.
Probably became extinct as a result of disease and predation, as well as habitat loss, compounded by the exceptional strength of Hurricane Iwa - although by the time of this hurricane it was too late to save the species.

The yellow feathers that the 'O'o's exhibited were important in Hawaiian featherwork for capes, gowns and head-dresses and although the Hawaiians supposedly freed birds after taking the feathers they required there can be no doubt that this would still have had a seriously detrimental effect on the populations.

Link: Kaua'i O'o (O'o A'a)
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KIOEA (Chaetoptila angustipluma) Ex

Formerly Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, but historically only on Hawai'i.

Last seen in 1859 or early 1860's.

The Hawaiian word KIOEA translates as "long-legged".

This species was large and brown above with a long tapering brown tail. The back and nape were covered in large white spots. The underparts were white with heavy dark streaks down the front. The undertail was pale chestnut. The head was brownish with dark streaking and a dark eye and ear-covert patch. The bill was long and slightly decurved.
Sexes alike. (13 inches)

Song: Loud and melodious.

Only known from four specimens, none collected before 1840, apparently a nectar feeder in the tree canopy but very little else is known of this species. Fossil remains have been found on several Islands in Hawai'i, including O'ahu and Moloka'i.
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LANA'I HOOKBILL (Dysmorodrepanis munroi) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Lana'i.

Not seen since 1918.

Adults: Light gray with a tinge of green, the underparts were paler and almost white. A light band ran along the wing and there was a light mark over the eye. the mandibles curved towards each other and so the tip of the lower mandible was the only part that touched the upper, therefore leaving a gap in the middle. (6 inches)

Last seen in the Kaiholeua Valley and Waiakeakua area of Lana'i. Only seen a few times ever, and all between c. 1912 and 1918. Some naturalists consider that the Lana'i Hookbill was actually just a deformed individual of another species and because so few were ever seen (probably only three) there is some doubt as to the validity of these records. The only known specimen is kept at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Presumably could not survive in the depleted and ravished Lana'i forests.

The illustration shown here is by Julian Hume and shows the only known specimen that survives today, and is housed in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
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LESSER KOA-FINCH (Rhodacanthis flaviceps) Ex

Formerly Endemic to the Kona side of Hawai'i only.

Not seen since 1891, when the only records occurred (specimens).

Males
were olive-green-brown above and yellow below with white undertail -coverts. The head was brighter yellow than the rest of the yellow coloring. The tail was quite short and wide and dark. The bill was powerful and pale gray. Females were Olive-green-brown all over, although paler below, except for the white undertail coverts. The bill was gray. Legs were gray in both species. (7.5 inches)

Calls: Unknown.

Was apparantly an exclusive feeder in Koa trees where it tended to remain near the top. It is only known from a few specimens collected in 1891 at one locality in Kona.

There is the possibility that only one species was actually involved "Koa Finch" and that Lesser and Greater Koa-Finches were actually just extremes of one species - much debate has ensued on this subject.
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GREATER KOA-FINCH (Rhodocanthis palmeri) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Kau and Kona districts of Hawai'i.

Not seen since 1896.

Males were large with brownish upperparts and short brown tail. The underparts were orangey-brown, paling towards the lower belly. The undertail-coverts were white. The head was bright orange-red. The bill was large and gray. Females were like Lesser Koa-Finch but probably slightly paler below and slightly larger. Immature males apparently had heads which were yellowy, but never as bright as male Lesser koa-Finches. (9 inches)

Calls: A clear, quiet whistle, and several whistled flute-like notes, more prolonged at the end.

Like the former species, Greater Koa-Finches were confined to one side of Hawai'i above 1000 meters, and lived in the same habitats and behaved similarly to Lesser Koa-Finches.

There is the possibility that only one species was actually involved "Koa Finch" and that Lesser and Greater Koa-Finches were actually just extremes of one species - much debate has ensued on this subject.
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KONA GROSBEAK (Chloridops kona) Ex

Formerly Endemic in the Kona region of Hawai'i.

Last seen in 1894.

Dark olive-green over the entire body. Very short tailed. Legs and eye dark. Large powerful, deep bill was pale off-white, horn-colored or buffy-pink. Sexes alike. (6 inches)

Calls: Usually silent, but some accounts describe a low "cheep". Song: Reported as a clear but quiet whistled song.

A sluggish bird which fed on the hard, dried fruits of the naio tree, which grew on medium-aged lava flows - hence the powerful bill. Apparently the sound of birds cracking seeds could be used to locate feeding individuals. Apparently the bill was often smothered in a sticky brown substance from the fruit of the naio tree.

Very limited distribution (possibly less than 10 square kilometers) on and near Mauna Loa probably ensured this species downfall.
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GREATER 'AMAKIHI (Hemignathus sagittirostris) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i.

Last seen in the early 20th century, probably 1901.

Hawaiian name 'AMAKIHI is derived from the words kihi or kihikihi which mean "curved".

Very like the other 'Amakihi's but larger with straight bill. Overall plumage was yellow-green with short tail.
Sexes similar. (6.5 inches)

Calls: A repeated "chirrup". Song: Similar to Common 'Amakihi but with several additional notes at the end.

Fed amongst trees in the leaves, in vines and in ferns. It is said to have been a creeper like many other small green birds in Hawai'i. Known only from the dense rain forest of the Hamakua
Coast/Wailuku River area above 800 meters. The area that the species was found (native forest) was under sugar cane cultivation by 1950 and there is realistically no hope that the species survived any later than about 1901.
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GREATER 'AKIALOA (Hemignathus ellisianus) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i.

Not seen since the end of the 19th Century.

The Hawaiian name 'AKIALOA (or Akihialoa) refers to the long, curved bill of this species.

Both sexes dull olive-green with very short tails. Very slight paler supercilium above and before eye. Very long, deeply decurved pale gray bill, which was somewhat shorter than the other 'Akialoa. Legs gray. Bill of females and immatures shorter and less curved. (7 - 7.5 inches)

Call: Louder and deeper than 'Amakihi calls. Song: A trill intermediate between songs of 'Akiapola'au and 'Amakihi.

This species was a bark-creeper which picked insects from cracks and holes in clumps of moss, lichen and bark.

Link: 'Akialoa

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LESSER 'AKIALOA (Hemignathus obscurus) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Kaua'i, O'ahu, Moloka'i and possibly Lana'i.

Not seen on any of the Islands after the first few years of the 20th Century. On Kaua'i survived in the Alaka'i Swamp into the 1960's, but has not been reliably reported since 1967 and is almost certainly extinct.

The Hawaiian name 'AKIALOA (or Akihialoa) refers to the long, curved bill of this species.

Similar to Greater 'Akialoa but paler overall and brighter yellow-green below. More pronounced supercilium and slightly darker ear-coverts. Bill longer and less sharply decurved than the Hawai'i species (also shorter in
females). The Kaua'i form had the longest bill of all the 'Akialoa and was distinctive for this and its size in the Kaua'i forests, and was unlikely to be misidentified. Behavior was the same as for ellisianus. (6.5-7 inches)

Call: Louder and deeper than 'Amakihi calls. Song: A trill intermediate between songs of 'Akiapola'au and 'Amakihi. Kaua'i 'Akialoa is reported to have been Canary-like by early writers.

Link: 'Akialoa
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O`AHU NUKUPU'U (Hemignathus lucidus lucidus) Ex

Formerly Endemic to O'ahu.

Not seen since the beginning of the 20th Century.

The name NUKUPU'U translates in Hawaiian as "bill shaped like a hill", nuku = bill of a bird, pu'u = a small round hill.

Males were bright yellow below and on the head and face with pale olive-green upperparts and a short olive-colored tail. Undertail-coverts were whitish. The eye was dark with a small dark surround/loral area; pale upper mandible surround. The fantastic bill had a sharply decurved upper mandible and a short decurved lower mandible. Females were duller, being olive-green all over and with a shorter and less robust bill. The legs were dark. (5.5 inches)

Calls: A loud "kee-wit". Song: Like 'Akiapola'au song but less vigourous - a melodious and warbling song with a rising whistle or trill at the end "pit-er-ieu".

The curved lower mandible, whitish undertail-coverts and pale upper mandible surround distinguish this species from 'Akiapola'au.

The species was a bark picker and fed in a similar way to 'Amakihi or 'Akikiki. It was also known to tap at bark in the manner of 'Akiapola'au but not as vigorously. Only occasionally was it reported to feed on nectar.

The species inhabited dense, wet ohi'a forests.

Link: Nukupu'u

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KAUA'I NUKUPU'U (Hemignathus lucidus hanapepe) Ex ?

Formerly Endemic to Kaua'i.

Last seen in the early 1990's and despite extensive searches not seen since and now almost certainly extinct, although there is a chance a few individuals survive.

The name NUKUPU'U translates in Hawaiian as "bill shaped like a hill", nuku = bill of a bird, pu'u = a small round hill.

Males were bright yellow below and on the head and face with pale olive-green upperparts and a short olive-colored tail. Undertail-coverts were whitish. The eye was dark with a small dark surround/loral area; pale upper mandible surround. The fantastic bill had a sharply decurved upper mandible and a short decurved lower mandible. Females were duller, being olive-green all over and with a shorter and less robust bill. The legs were dark. (5.5 inches)

Calls: A loud "kee-wit". Song: Like 'Akiapola'au song but less vigourous - a melodious and warbling song with a rising whistle or trill at the end "pit-er-ieu".

The species was a bark picker and fed in a similar way to 'Amakihi or 'Akikiki. It was also known to tap at bark in the manner of 'Akiapola'au but not as vigorously. Only occasionally was it reported to feed on nectar.

The species inhabited dense, wet ohi'a forests of the Alaka'a Swamp and Koke'e forest.

Link: Nukupu'u

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MAUI NUKUPU'U (Hemignathus lucidus affinis) Ex

Formerly Endemic on Maui.

Not seen since c.1960 and presumed extinct.

The name NUKUPU'U translates in Hawaiian as "bill shaped like a hill", nuku = bill of a bird, pu'u = a small round hill.

Males were bright yellow below and on the head and face with pale olive-green upperparts and a short olive-colored tail. Undertail-coverts were yellow. The eye was dark with a small dark surround/loral area; pale upper mandible surround. The fantastic bill had a sharply decurved upper mandible and a short decurved lower mandible. Females were duller, being olive-green all over and with a shorter and less robust bill. The legs were dark. (5.5 inches)

Calls: A loud "kee-wit". Song: Like 'Akiapola'au song but less vigourous - a melodious and warbling song with a rising whistle or trill at the end "pit-er-ieu".

The species was a bark picker and fed in a similar way to 'Amakihi or 'Akikiki. It was also known to tap at bark in the manner of 'Akiapola'au but not as vigorously. Only occasionally was it reported to feed on nectar.

The species inhabited dense, wet ohi'a forests on the NE slopes of Haleakala.

Link: Nukupu'u

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HAWAI'I NUKUPU'U (Hemignathus lucidus sp.) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i.

Only seen a few times in the last century and reported once this century, now extinct.

The name NUKUPU'U translates in Hawaiian as "bill shaped like a hill", nuku = bill of a bird, pu'u = a small round hill.

Males were bright yellow below and on the head and face with pale olive-green upperparts and a short olive-colored tail. Undertail-coverts were yellow. The eye was dark with a small dark surround/loral area; pale upper mandible surround. The fantastic bill had a sharply decurved upper mandible and a short decurved lower mandible. Females were duller, being olive-green all over and with a shorter and less robust bill. The legs were dark. (5.5 inches)

Calls: A loud "kee-wit". Song: Like 'Akiapola'au song but less vigourous - a melodious and warbling song with a rising whistle or trill at the end "pit-er-ieu".

The species was a bark picker and fed in a similar way to 'Amakihi or 'Akikiki. It was also known to tap at bark in the manner of 'Akiapola'au but not as vigorously. Only occasionally was it reported to feed on nectar.

The species inhabited dense, wet ohi'a forests on Kohala Mountain, and has been confirmed as inhabiting Hawai'i by a previously overlooked specimen.

Link: Nukupu'u
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O'U (Psittirostra psittacea) Ex ?

Formerly Endemic on all the six largest Main Islands.

In the late 20th Century only found on Kaua'i and Hawai'i. No sightings since mid-1980's and may now be extinct.

The Hawaiian translation of O'U is: Male = O'u po'o lapalapa - "square-headed O'u" or "yellow-headed O'u". Female = O'u lae o'o - "mature-headed O'u" or "leaf-green headed O'u".

Male O'u was dark olive-green above and below with slightly darker wings, white undertail-coverts, shortish olive-green tail and a striking bright yellow head. The eye was dark and the bill was pink with a slightly hooked tip. Legs also pink. Females were drab olive-green all over with slightly paler undertail-coverts and paler throat and lacked the yallow head of the males. Bill also pink. When perched the species apparently appeared pot-bellied and sat horizontally. (6.5 inches)

Calls: A plaintive up-slurred or down-slurred whistle. Song: A sweet, clear song with three or four very distinctive whistled notes and a trill.

This species would sit for long periods in high trees over the forest canopy and was a rather lethargic feeder. The flight was strong and direct. The species was mainly a fruit eater and was found in recent times in the wet ohi'a forests of Hamakua region above 1300-1500 meters in Volcanoes National Park (Hawai'i) and the Alaka'i Swamp (Kaua'i).

The population on Hawai'i rapidly diminished during the latter part of the 20th century and the area where the last strongholds occurred were dissected by a fresh lava flow in the 1980's, which may have fragmented the population beyond recovery. On Kaua'i the population of this once extremely common species had dwindled to very few individuals by the 1980's and despite extensive surveys none have been observed since, although there are a few reports of unidentified calls which could be this species. If seen unlikely to be confused with any other species in the Main Islands (Palila is much paler and has more yellow on head and breast).

Link: O'u

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LANA'I 'ALAUAHIO (LANA'I CREEPER) (Paroreomyza montana montana) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Lana'i.

Not seen since the early-mid 20th Century.

Male is green above, yellow below and on the forehead. Females are less yellow. Immatures are dull olive-green-yellow with two faint pale wingbars. The bill in all plumages is short, straight and pale, often with a pinky base to the lower mandible. Legs are pale. (4.5 inches)

Calls: Like Maui Creeper -
a distinctive "chip", given at one to three second intervals. Song: Like Maui Creeper - a thin warble, different to all other trills of native Lana'i birds.

Once found in native forest on Lana'i and presumably like the similar Maui Creeper also visited introduced vegetation. Since very little native habitat exists any more on Lana'i this is the sole cause of the extirpation of this sub-species.
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O'AHU 'ALAUAHIO (O'AHU CREEPER) (Paroreomyza maculata) Ex ?

Formerly Endemic to O'ahu.

Not seen since the 1970's, although an unconfirmed report in 1985 on the Poamoho Trail.

Male is green-yellow above, yellow below with a short tail and yellow supercilium and forehead which contrasts with the thin, black lores. Females are drab green above, pale below with a whitish throat, supercilium and forehead. Females also have two bold wingbars. The bill in both sexes is straight and pale, and the legs are pale too. Immatures are like females but duller with a shorter bill. (4.5 inches)

Calls: A thin "chip". Song: Not known.

Found in the central Ko'olau Mountains where it probably has the same habits as Maui Creeper.

Note: Female and immature O'ahu Creeper are extremely similar to O'ahu 'Amakihi females and juveniles and good, prolonged views would be needed to confirm a sighting. All recent claims of O'ahu Creeper have been established as being mis-identified 'Amakihi.
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KAKAWAHIE (MOLOKA'I CREEPER) (Paroreomyza flammea) Ex

Formerly Endemic on Moloka'i only.

Not seen since 1963.

The Hawaiian name KAKAWAHIE means "to break up firewood" and refers to the species chipping call.

Males were bright crimson red with darker wings and slightly forked tail. The legs were pale as was the short, sharp warbler-like bill. Eye was dark. Females were rusty brown above, buffy-white below with variable amounts of orange-red on the throat and breast. Undertail- coverts were white. Immatures were like females but with less orange-red tinge below. (5 inches)

Calls: A loud "chirk" like wood being chipped. Song: Not known.

The species used to look for food on tree trunks and branches as well as in leaves. Also known to feed in undergrowth near the ground. Apparently curious and active and used to approach observers. Last seen in 1963 on the Ohialele Plateau above Pelekunu Valley.

Link: Kakawahie (Molokai Creeper)
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O`AHU 'AKEPA (Loxops coccineus rufa) Ex

Formerly Endemic to O'ahu.

Not seen since early 1980's and presumed extinct.

The Hawaiian name 'AKEPA means "active".

Small finch-like species with long notched tails.
Males are brick red with gray bills. Females are a dull gray-green color with no black in the lores. Older immature males are golden yellow irregularly tinged with orange. Young immature males are like females but with orange wash on breast. (4 inches)

Calls: A thin, upslurred whistle, a high-pitched "teedle-ee-dee" and a louder two note "cheedlee". Song: A weak, rather listless trill which varies in speed and pitch, usually descending the scale.

Often seen in small flocks, this species used to keep to the leaf canopy where they fed on leaves and buds and occasionally flowers.
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`ULA -`AI -HAWANE (Ciridops anna) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i.

Not seen since the 1890's, probably 1892, when the last specimen was collected at the headwaters of the Awini River on Mount Kohala on February 20th. Although George C. Munro may have glimpsed a single bird in 1937 along the Kahua ditch trail.

The Hawaiian name 'ULA-'AI-HAWANE translates as "red bird that feeds on the hawane", hawane being a native palm.

Adults were an amazing combination of gray, red, black and white. Adults had pale gray head, nape and upper back, wide black breast band, red underparts, black tail and red and black wings with white tertials! Immatures were a dark, dull olive-green. Birds had a small pale finch-like bill and pale legs. (4.5 inches)

Calls: Not known. Song: Not known.

In historic times was only found in the Kohala district of the Big Island. Its habits and voice are unknown. A real loss to the Hawaiian avifauna only five specimens are known to currently exist.
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HAWAI'I MAMO (Drepanis pacifica) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Hawai'i.

Last taken on 16th April 1892 and last seen in 1899.

The Hawaiian name MAMO or HOOHOO is probably a corruption of the similar 'O'o, which is also black with yellow.

Adults were glossy black with yellow rumps and thigh feathers and small yellow shoulder patch. The tail was black and there was a white basal primary patch and white shafts along the primaries. The bill was long and decurved and black. Legs were dark gray or black. (9 inches)

Call: A long, plaintive whistle.

This was a shy species that lived in the forest canopy and fed on nectar of lobelioid flowers that possessed curved, tubular flowers.

Last seen near Kaumana on Hawai'i. The royal cloak of Kamehameha I is estimated to have taken the reigns of eight monarchs and the feathers of 80,000 Mamos before it was completed!
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BLACK MAMO (Drepanis funerea) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Moloka'i.

Last observed in 1907, when three individuals were (poorly) shot and collected.

The Hawaiian name MAMO or HOOHOO is probably a corruption of the similar 'O'o, which is also black. Another name for the Mamo was O'O-nuku-umu or Hoa and this meant the "O'o with the sucking beak".

This species was similar to the Hawai'i Mamo but was entirely black except for the white primary shafts. The bill was more sharply decurved than the former species and had a small yellowy spot near the base (on the operculum). When the bird fed the forehead would often become covered in pollen, making the forehead appear pale. (8 inches)

Calls: A clear flutelike whistle and a five or six note rollicking whistle.

The species fed in flowers of lobelias and ohi'a-lehua at lower levels than the Hawai'i Mamo. Apparently curious and would approach observers.
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LAYSAN HONEYCREEPER (Himatione sanguinea freethii) Ex

Formerly Endemic to Laysan Island.

Became extinct in 1923.

Identical in shape and size to 'Apapane, of which it is a race, with similar plumage details. Orangey-red body in adults with black wings, tail and dirty-white or gray undertail-coverts (white in Main Islands). Legs black and bill black and pointed. Unlike the Main Island form the crimson areas were orangey and rather dirty-looking with brown-black feather edgings and markings. Immatures were like immature 'Apapane, being gray/olive/brown with white undertail-coverts.(5 inches)

Calls: Similar to 'Apapane:
A loud up-slurred whistle. Song: Very variable with at several songs recorded. Varies from sweet, whistled notes, harsh chips and buzzes and all intermixed. Usually sounded rather melancholy.

The picture, right, is a painting from a photograph taken just three days before a sand storm wiped out the last remaining Laysan Honeycreepers in 1923. The photograph was taken by Donald Dickey ©, but the artist is unknown.
(Denver History Photo Archives. All rights reserved).


The picture to the left taken in 1923 just after a sandstorm that drove the Laysan Honeycreeper to extinction. After years of vegetation loss from overgrazing by Rabbits there was no protection for the species and nothing to stop large areas of sand from being moved around the island.
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'O ka manu 'O'o i malama

O precious 'O'o bird

A he nani kou hulu ke lei 'ia

Your feathers are so beautiful woven into a lei

Mukiki ana 'oe i ka pua lehua

You sip lehua flowers

Kahea ana 'oe i ka nui manu

And call other birds

(Emerson 1909)


Extinct Birds - A site with great information on

extinct birds, including Hawaiian species.


Also try reading "Extinct Birds" by Errol Fuller (OUP 2000)


Above is shown a mural housed at the Smithsonian Zoo,

which shows every species, recent and fossil, from Maui © by Charles Phillips.



'Anihinihi ke ola

"Life is a precarious position"


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©Birding Hawaii 2002