This is the 2nd article from the level 4 class magazine that I would like to introduce.
This article’s topic, theʻōʻō bird is one of the Hawaii island’s extinct endemic species.
If you are into hula, maybe you noticed a Hilo halau performed a song this year about the ʻōʻō bird and their costumes were as if they were ʻōʻō birds.
Hawaii is the most isolated island chain in the world, so it’s too far for most all animals to come to Hawaii by themselves.
Of course, it’s hard even for birds to reach Hawaii because it is surrounded by a barrier of oceans.
However, if they could arrive in Hawaii, those birds couldn’t live for a long time. In the demanding environment, only the birds that were good at flying
long distances could survive in the Hawaiian Islands. This bird is the ʻōʻō, but today we can not see this bird in the world.
There were five spices of ʻōʻō in Hawaii, but all became extinct. The last genuine report of the Hawaii ʻōʻō probably concerns an individual heard singing on the slopes of Mauna Loa around the year 1934. It had an overall length of 32 centimetres, wing length of 11–11.5 centimetres, and a tail length of up to 19 centimetres.ʻōʻō’s chirping is very loud and high, so people could hear the song one kilometer away, but naturally their loud songs made ʻōʻō easy to find for other animals and humans. In the past, birds weren’t afraid of humans because before human lived in Hawaii, wild birds didn’t have natural enemies or rivals.
The environment totally changed when Polynesians came to Hawaii because they started to catch Hawaiian birds to eat and to decorate clothes.
In ancient Hawaii, decorations made of ʻōʻō feathers were popular. Hawaiian people caught ʻōʻō and removed their plumes and
released them. ʻōʻō were expected to provide their beautiful feathers for the famous robes, capes and helmets to the ancient kings and princes of Hawaii, so it depleted the ʻōʻō population.
ʻōʻō plumes often showed a symbol of high status in the hierarchical society of Hawaii because they could fly high. On the other hand, birds that flew low showed a lower position in society.
Also Captain Cook had a cape made of ʻōʻō feathers which he brought back to England between 1778 and 1779.
Even though lots of birds became extinct, still about 30 endemic species of wild birds are alive in Hawaii Islands today. Many of them are
likely to disappear because of diseases, natural enemies, and shortages of habitats. After all, they are precious miracles for Hawaii. We should care about Hawaiian animals and also other animals in the world.