Saturday, 5 June 2021

The Last Bird of Its Kind, Singing for a Mate That Will Never Come.


In Hawaii's Kauai island, the native forest birds are in peril. Once considered a paradise for the colorful songbirds, the island has lost more than half of those native species.Over the coming decades, species are predicted to go extinct a 1000 times the historical natural rate, and in 100 years the planet may lose up to 50 percent of all species alive today.
The Kauaʻi ʻōʻō or ʻōʻōʻāʻā (Moho braccatus) bird was among the smallest of the Hawaian honeyeaters, if not the smallest species, at just over 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length. It was the only ʻōʻō  known to have eyes with yellow irises. It was named dwarf ʻōʻō  by the natives. It was very vocal, making tranquil flute like calls. Both males and females were known to sing. It was endemic to the island of Kauaʻi and was common in the subtropical forests of the island until the early twentieth century when its decline began.Although listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in 1987 the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō was male, and his song was recorded for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The male was recorded singing a mating call. The song has breaks for the female bird to respond. for them to harmonize together and make beautiful songs. But there's no response and so desperately sad, because this bird is waiting  for someone no longer there as the male Kauaʻi ʻōʻō is the last of its kind.
 This haunting song of the Kaua‘i ‘Ō‘ō will  never be heard in the wild again, since it has not been detected since 1987, and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists it as extinct. Habitat  destruction and invasive species were the likely causes of the species decline and loss.
Knowing it are the last calls of an entire individual species is uneasy to hear,maybe this bird knew he was the last and he was singing goodbye cruel world. Though the song is incomplete, and ever so sad because such  sound will ever be sung again.what remains is very beautiful. Someday the last human will call out too, and nobody will be there to answer the call.. 
Today, the Kauai ʻōʻō is extinct but other native forest birds such as the I'iwi are still around. but face the threats of invasive species and climate change. Luckily, conservationists are dedicated to ensuring a thriving future for these rare birds. Conservationists are hopeful that by working to remove invasive species and use captive breeding programs to bolster populations they can help these forest birds fill the forests once again. The ʻōʻō serves as a reminder to strive to prevent extinctions of these endemic birds.
The Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project is an organization that promotes the knowldge, appreciation.  awareness and conservation of the native forest birds of Kaua‘i’, Hawaii. It is a collaboration between the State of Hawaii Division of Forestry & Wildlife and the University of Hawaii's Pacific Studies Cooperative Unit. 
The project began in 2003 and advocates for the unique birds of Kaua‘i’. Only eight species of forest birds remain on Kaua‘i’ due to invasive species, plants, disease, and climate change.These include federally endangered birds such as the Akeke’e, Akikiki, and the Puaiohi as well as native birds like the Kaua’i ‘Amakihi, Apapane, Anianiau, Kaua’i Elepaio, and 'I'iwi.
 Invasive species including rats, threaten the remaining birds by destroying nests and aggressively competing for food. This is a common problem in areas in which species have evolved without natural predators. Where humans go, so do rats and their destructive nature. Unfortunately, this means animals like the forest birds of Kaua‘i  simply have no natural defense mechanisms against predatory species. It is a problem that we as humans have created and one that we need to fix.
If after all that  you fancy an hours worth of the plaintive cry of the the Kauai ʻōʻō  bird, you can listen below.

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