Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
Kaua‘i ‘O‘o / Moho braccatus
||The Kaua‘i ‘o‘o, also known as the ‘o‘o ‘a‘a, is a black bird that measures approximately 8 inches long. Its belly and undertail coverts are brown, and its throat is streaked with white. It has yellow leg feathers which stand out against its black body.
|‘O‘o - Photo credit Rob Shallenberger/USFWS
Habitat & Behavior:
The Kaua‘i ‘o‘o is found in the wet ‘ohi‘a forests in the remote Alaka‘i Swamp. It is an active bird that seems to prefer thick forests in high elevations. It is the smallest and also the only remaining of the four ‘o‘o species in Hawai‘i. This exetremely rare bird feeds primarily on invertebrates like spiders, moths, and snails. They are also known to eat lobelia and ‘olapa fruits and ‘ohi‘a nectar.
The ‘o‘o builds its nest in dead tree cavities and has a loud “ah-o” and “whip-poor-weeo” call. It is known to be one of the finest singers of the Hawaiian birds with a variable and echoing song.
Past & Present:
‘O‘o numbers declined drastically during the 1900s. Upon rediscovery in the 1960s, the estimated population was 36 birds; in 1981, only one pair of ‘o‘o were found. The bird was last heard in 1987. The exact reasons for their decline are not known, but avian diseases and land clearing are believed to be major factors.
The ‘o‘o was listed as an endangered species on March 11, 1967. The ‘o‘o is included in the Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds (2006).
September 20, 2012