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Found only on the island of Oahu, this species was common in the late 1890s but had become rare by 1930. Last probable sighting in 1990 and now thought to be extinct.
Somewhat like a yellowish warbler in appearance, this species is scarcely differentiated from the similar Oahu ?Amakihi (Hemignathus chloris) leading to confusion and uncertainty over the verity of recent records. The ?Alauahio is distinguished in having a yellow (in males) or white (in females) forehead and a slightly straighter bill. Call is a loud chip, while the song is unknown.
Once common, but already declining markedly by the turn of the century and becoming virtually impossible to locate after 1935. Of 41 sightings reported since 1940, only 6 are considered dependable with the rest considered misidentifications. All recent sightings have been from the mid to upper regions of the Ko?olau Mountains and in pockets of native wet forest that have been extensively degraded, but the authenticity of these records is uncertain.
A little known species, but the few observations indicate that this bird foraged among the higher branches of the koa tree (Acacia koa) in search of beetles and invertebrates under bark or in crevices. Only two nests were ever collected and the little information available suggests that nest building commenced in late January and was centered around thickly wooded areas with dense undergrowth.
Deforestation and habitat alteration may have been the most pressing threat to this species, with avian malaria and pox contributing to their decline.
Federally listed as Endangered in 1970. The sole active conservation step being planned is additional surveys with all other conservation measures pending on the successful rediscovery of this species. A patch of native forest is currently being safeguarded by The Nature Conservancy as a potential release site for birds produced by a captive-breeding program, if one is ever initiated.
What Can You Do?
Although the Endangered Species Act may have been too late to prevent the extinction of the Oahu 'Alauahio, it does protect and provide resources for many species. Audubon continues to work to ensure that this vital legislation is being used to protect our publicly-owned wildlife resources. Check out http://www.audubon.org/campaign/ to learn of the latest news about the Endangered Species Act and how you can help. To learn more about other species protected under this legislation, visit: http://endangered.fws.gov/
Support efforts to control feral animals and invasive plants and insects throughout the Hawaiian Islands. For more information visit: http://www.hear.org/
Support efforts to protect native forest habitat on Oahu by state and federal agencies and conservation organizations.
Join Hawaii Audubon Society. A chapter of National Audubon, the Hawaii Audubon Society works to protect and educate people about Hawaii?s birds. For more information visit: http://www.audubon.org/states/hi/
Baker, P. E., and H. Baker. 2000. Oahu 'Alauahio (Paroreomyza maculata). In The Birds of North America, No. 503 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologist's Union, Washington, D.C.
BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Paroreomyza maculata, O'ahu 'Alauahio http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=8917&m=0
Pratt, H. D. et. al. 1987. A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton UP, Princeton, New Jersey.