Information

Caged birds: Poo-Uli

Caged birds: Poo-Uli

Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Passeriformi
Family: Finches
Kind: Melamprosops
Species: M. phaeosoma Casey and Jacobi, 1974

Endemic species of the Hawaiian Islands. One of the rarest bird species in the world. Many experts claim that it is already extinct, but this theory is not yet certain and confirmed by the scientific-ornithological community.
Only representative of the genus Melamprosops. Its particular name "Melamprosops", derives from the Greek melas (μέλας; «black)» + prosopo (πρόσωπο; «face»), while the specific epithet phaeosoma, derives phaios (φαιός; «gray-brown») + soma (σώμα; "body").
This bird was discovered only in 1973 by two students of the National University of Hawaii, who identified it at the north-eastern slopes of Haleakala, on the Island of Maui, at almost two thousand meters high. It was a great discovery, also because it was the first species of "Drepanide" discovered after 1923. When it was discovered, an estimated 200 specimens existed in that territory.
This species made possible the establishment of the Hawaii Nature Reserve, to protect many endangered species of flora and fauna. Already in 1997 there were only 3 registered specimens of this species, inside the natural reserve, adjacent to the Haleakala National Park. In 2002 a female was captured and was released in the territory where the males were spotted, with the hope that it could reproduce, but this returned to its territory a few hours later. In 2004, a 2 week expedition was carried out to capture the subjects left in the wild to attempt captive breeding. On 09 September 2004 a male was captured, but scholars were unable to find a female to reproduce it; the captured male died on November 26, 2004. Since that day, there have been many expeditions to identify the subjects remained in nature, but no sightings have been confirmed. We are not aware if this species is still part of our world.

Poo-Uli young subject - Melamprosops phaeosoma (photo www.l-oiseau-voyageur.com)

A Poo-Uli, subject photographed in freedom (photo http://michaelfuruya.com)

Features

Strikingly different from all other species living in Hawaii Island. The Poo-Uli has a particular livery, with the upper parts of the body brown and the lower parts gray-whitish. It also features a large black face mask, which extends to the nape of the neck. Adult subjects have a silver area on the head that fades to brown at the top. Immediately behind the mask, you can see a clear spot surrounded and well defined. The livery of the young is similar to that of the adults, but they differ in the presence of the brownish color on the belly, the facial mask is smaller and narrower and the top of the head is brown instead of grayish. Almost all the photos taken of Poo-Uli specimens portray young subjects.
The DNA analysis carried out on specimens of Poo-uli, showed that it belonged to an ancient evolutionary line of Drepanids.
Poo-Uli is the only surviving species of its group. No living species has morphological characteristics equal to it.

Breeding

It nests mainly in the primary forests of Ohia Lehua. It feeds on snails, spiders, insects of various kinds.
There are no documented evidence of captive breeding of this particular species of Fringillidae. Importation to Europe never happened.
The decline (and probable extinction) of Poo-Uli is attributable to many factors, first of all the notable decrease in arboreal snails, the main source of food for these animals; but some mosquito-borne diseases are also thought to have contributed. Predation by Java mongooses and rats may also have been the cause of their disappearance.

Card created by Federico Vinattieri http://ornitologia.difossombrone.it


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