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Ou Psittirostra psittacea
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This species has not been recorded with certainty on Kaua'i since 1989 nor on Hawai'i since 1987, and recent searches specifically for it have failed. It may have been driven extinct by habitat loss, introduced rats, and in particular from malaria from introduced mosquitoes. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct until all potential areas have been surveyed, particularly in Ka'u, Waiakea, and Pu'u Maka'ala, and recent unconfirmed reports have been followed up by systematic searches. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

17 cm. Chunky finch with thick bill strongly hooked at tip. Male olive-green with sharply defined yellow head and white undertail-coverts. Female olive-green above and below, greyer on throat and upper breast. Bill pink in both sexes. Voice Song long, loud and complex with whistles, trills, and warbles. Call an upslurred or downslurred whistle, very far-carrying.

Distribution and population
Psittirostra psittacea was originally widespread in the Hawaiian Islands (USA), but was extirpated from O`ahu, Maui, Moloka`i and then Lana`i between 1899 and 1931 (Snetsinger et al. 1998). On Kaua`i, it survived in the Alaka`i Wilderness Preserve into the mid-1970s, with c.62 birds being present during 1968-1973 (USFWS 1983), but only a few in 1981 (Scott et al. 1986), two in 1989 and none since. On Hawai`i, several populations were present in the early 1980s, with c.394 estimated during 1976-1983 (Scott et al. 1986) but, in 1984, a lava-flow from Mauna Loa passed through the Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve, the species's stronghold (Scott et al. 1986, Snetsinger et al. 1998), and the last confirmed sighting was in 1987 (Snetsinger et al. 1998). However, since 1995 there have been unconfirmed reports from Koai`e Stream, Alaka`i (Kaua`i) and Pu`u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve and Kapapala-Ka`u Forest Reserve (Hawai`i) (Snetsinger et al. 1998, J. Lepson in litt. 1999). The prognosis is poor, especially given the species's preference for lower elevations where habitat loss and the impacts of introduced disease and predators have been most severe, but it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct until the last areas have been intensively surveyed (S. Fretz, E. Vanderwerf, R. Camp and M. Gorresen in litt. 2003). Any remaining population is likely to be tiny.

Population justification
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), with unconfirmed reports since 1995, but no confirmed records since 1987.

It is restricted to wet to mesic `ohi`a forest between 800 and 1,900 m, mainly 1,200-1,500 m (Scott et al. 1986, Snetsinger et al. 1998). Its bill is adapted to feeding on `ie`ie, an understory vine, and outside the `ie`ie fruiting season, it is nomadic in response to seasonal fruit and invertebrate abundance (Snetsinger et al. 1998).

Habitat has been lost and modified by logging and agriculture, and `ie`ie has declined because of pressure from introduced rats and ungulates (Snetsinger et al. 1998). Feral pigs, in particular, are pervasive habitat degraders (Scott et al. 1986, Anderson and Stone 1993, Pratt 1994) and their activity benefits the introduced mosquito vectors of avian diseases which are implicated in the rapid decline of this species (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt 1994, Snetsinger et al. 1998), especially given that its nomadic behaviour may increase its exposure to disease (Snetsinger et al. 1998). The population has been decimated by hurricanes on Kaua`i and lava-flows on Hawai`i (Conant et al. 1998, Snetsinger et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions Underway
Recent reports of this species come from three protected areas (Snetsinger et al. 1998). A Rare Bird Search Project was implemented to find the species and make recommendations for its conservation, but none were located (Snetsinger et al. 1998). Feral pig elimination is being carried out in a number of protected areas in Hawai`i (Anderson and Stone 1993) which could hold remnant populations. The Kaua`i Watershed Alliance and The Nature Conservancy are considering fencing (to exclude herbivores and possibly other predators) the north-eastern section of the Alakai Plateau on Kaua`i, where the species was last recorded. Conservation Actions Proposed
Perform further surveys to locate any remaining populations, following up unconfirmed reports as a priority. Manage ecosystems intensively in areas where the species could still occur (Snetsinger et al. 1998). Plant and encourage food-plants in areas where they have been extirpated (Snetsinger et al. 1998). Remove feral ungulates (Snetsinger et al. 1998). If birds are found, attempt to increase the population by captive propagation (Scott et al. 1986, Snetsinger et al. 1998). If found, protect nests (Snetsinger et al. 1998).

Anderson, S. J.; Stone, C. P. 1993. Snaring to control feral pigs Sus scrofa in a remote Hawaiian rain forest. Biological Conservation 63: 195-201.

Conant, S.; Pratt, H. D.; Shallenberger, R. J. 1998. Reflections on a 1975 expedition to the lost world of the Alaka'i and other notes on the natural history, systematics, and conservation of Kaua'i birds. Wilson Bulletin 110: 1-22.

Pratt, H. D. 1994. Avifaunal change in the Hawaiian Islands, 1893-1993. Studies in Avian Biology 15: 103-118.

Scott, J. M.; Mountainspring, S.; Ramsey, F. L.; Kepler, C. B. 1986. Forest bird communties of the Hawaiian Islands: their dynamics, ecology, and conservation. Cooper Ornithological Society, California.

Snetsinger, T. J.; Reynolds, M. H.; Herrmann, C. M. 1998. 'O'u (Psittirostra psittacea) and Lana'i Hookbill (Dysmorodrepanis munroi). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 335-336, pp. 1-20. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Kauai forest birds recovery plan. USFWS, Portland, USA.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Audubon WatchList

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds 2006

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Isherwood, I., Stattersfield, A., Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Camp, R., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., Pratt, T., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B., Lepson, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Psittirostra psittacea. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - O’u (Psittirostra psittacea) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered - Possibly Extinct
Family Fringillidae (Finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1789)
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 180 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species