Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
Po‘ouli / Melamprosops phaeosoma
||The po‘ouli has a brown top and a buff belly washed with brown. It also wears a black mask that is offset by a white throat. It has a short black bill and long pale legs. This forest bird usually measures around five and a half inches.
|Po‘ouli - Photo credit Paul E. Baker/USFWS
Habitat & Behavior:
This rare forest bird is of the "honeycreeper" family and spends most of its time foraging in native forests. Traveling in small family groups, the po‘ouli glean leaves and bark in the subcanopy and understory of forests searching for snails, spiders, and insects. The po‘ouli lives in elevations of 5,000 feet and above.
The po‘ouli breeds from February to June, and usually lays one or two eggs. This bird’s main calls are a repetitive “chick” and a whistled “wh-whit”.
Past & Present:
This bird was first found in 1973 by University of Hawai‘i students in the northeastern (wet) slope of Haleakala, Maui. Nine individuals were found at this first sighting. Possible po‘ouli bones found in 1982 lead scientists to believe that they once existed in the southwest (dry) slopes of Haleakala. There are no other records of this bird’s historical distribution. The 2 remaining known individuals in the wild were last seen in 2003 and 2004. Loss of habitat, predation, and lack of food sources are the primary threats to their survival.
The po‘ouli was listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on September 25, 1974. Government agencies and environmental groups are working together to continue to restore the habitat of the po‘ouli and other native species and to protect remaining individuals of this rare and unique bird of the rainforest. The po‘ouli is included in the Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds (2006).
September 20, 2012