Category: extinct

Hawaii Oo (Moho nobilis)

The story The ancient kings and princes of Hawaii chose this unfortunate creature to be their “royal” bird. As is so often the case when monarchs choose, being the “chosen” one does not necessarily confer safety – and it definitely did not in this case. The honour merely meant that ‘O’os were expected to provide […]

Chatham Rail (Gallirallus modestus)

The story This species seems to provide a fairly typical example of the way in which rails develop on isolated islands. It is assumed that this is another form that has evolved from an ancestral stock resembling the Buff-banded Rail, but in this case the evolution was rather more advanced than in others. Following the […]

Mauritian Red Rail (Aphanapteryx bonasia)

The story Scattered among the seventeenth century written accounts and illustrations that relate to the celebrated Dodo are descriptions and pictures of a flightless bird of a rather different kind. These pictures show a creature that in overall shape and appearance looks something like a kiwi. A long, down-curved beak, rather hair-like plumage and stout […]

Auckland Merganser (Mergus australis)

The story The Auckland Islands lie some 320 km south of New Zealand and this rather forlorn group was once home to a species of merganser that, while not entirely flightless, showed a marked reduction in wing size compared with its relatives. As often happens when birds develop in evolutionary backwaters (i.e. areas without mammalian […]

Rodrigues Starling (Necropsar rodericanus)

The story The skeletal remains of a starling were found on the island of Rodrigues during the 1870’s. Although there may be no connection, these bones have been associated with a brief account in the document known as the Relation de l’Ile Rodrigue, which was probably written by a marooned sailor named Tafforet during 1725. […]

Hawaiian Crake (Porzana sandwichensis)

The story A small species of rail once inhabited the main island of Hawaii and perhaps some other Hawaiian islands. A handful of specimens exist in the museums of the world but these have in themselves caused some controversy. Two of them are rather paler in colour than the rest, giving rise to the idea […]

Ascension Rail (Atlantisea elpenor)

The story The evidence for the former existence of a small rail on Ascension Island is of two kinds. First, bones from a rail have been found on the island and, second, there exists a seventeenth century written account of just such a creature. This account was written by the much travelled Englishman Peter Mundy, […]

Mauritius Blue-pigeon (Alectroenas nitidissima)

The story When the first Dutch mariners landed on Mauritius, they were hungry after weeks at sea on meager rations. Naturally, they caught Dodos and ate them. Soon, however, they tired of the rather tough meat on these easily caught creatures and turned their attentions to smaller, tastier birds. Among those that they mentioned particularly […]

Bachmans Warbler (Vermivora bachmanii)

The story This tiny species divided its time between the south-eastern USA and Cuba, where it wintered. It was first identified by the Reverend John Bachman, a close personal friend of the famous painter and writer John James Audubon. Bachman was a resident of Charleston, and in July 1833 he found, in a local swamp, […]

Ryukyu Woodpigeon (Columba jouyi)

The story This species, closely related to the last, occurred on the Ryukyu and Daito Islands, another of the island groups to the south of Japan. It was last recorded on the Daito Islands during 1936. Although certainly extinct on Okinawa where it was last seen in 1904, the species may possibly cling to existence […]