Hawai'i Mamo

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Hawaiian Name: Hawai’i mamo
Common Name: Hawaiʻi Mamo
Scientific Name: Drepanis pacifica

Size: 8 inches (20 cm)

Habitat: Oceania; endemic to the big island of Hawai`i (USA). It inhabited forest canopies; especially Ohi'a-lehua forests.

Status: Extinct (1899). Global Population: 0. It was heavily trapped by Hawaiians for their feathers, but it is more likely that habitat destruction and disease were the ultimate causes of the species’ extinction. European settlers changed the Mamo's habitat to support agriculture and cattle ranching, which damaged the bird's food source. The cattle roamed loose in the forests, destroying the understory ecosystem. Even though this was discovered early and was well known to the Hawaiians, the Mamo quickly disappeared.

Avian pox may have killed any birds that survived habitat destruction. There are many specimens of this bird in American and European museums. The bird seemed to disappear in 1899, but reports of this bird continued for a few more years. The last confirmed sighting was in July 1898 near Kaumana on the island of Hawaiʻi by a collector, Henry W. Henshaw, who, as mentioned by Tim Flannery in his book, A Gap In Nature, shot and wounded a bird he was stalking, before it escaped with another bird.

Diet: Flower nectar.

Breeding: The male and female of the species looked similar.

Cool Facts: The Mamo was one of the most honored birds in Hawaiian society. Its orange feathers were used to create capes and hats (featherwork) that were used by royalty. Feather collecting contributed to the bird's decline. The famous yellow cloak of Kamehameha I is estimated to have taken the reigns of eight monarchs and the golden feathers of 80,000 birds to complete.

Hawaiians collected the birds by removing sap from sandalwood trees and breadfruit to create a sticky paste that they placed near the blossoms of lobelias. A hungry Mamo would drink the nectar, and its feet would get stuck in the sap.

Some scientists claim that after plucking, Mamo were kept as pets, or cooked. Others claimed that the birds were released, and that there was a Kapu or restriction that required live release. Even if the birds were released, they would still be in a state of shock and risk injury. However, Hawaiian birds are relatively tame and unafraid when captured, and so might have survived handling better than most birds.

The Hawaiian name probably is a corruption of Hoohoo ('O'o) and relates to the birds’ calls.

Kalâkaua a he inoa (Kalâkaua is his name)
Ka pua mae`ole i ka la (A flower that wilts not in the sun)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la)

Ke pua maila ika mauna (Blooming on the summit)
Ke kuahiwi o Maunakea ('Of the mountain, Mauna Kea)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la)

Ke `a maila i Kilauea (Burning there at Kilauea)
Malamalama o wahine kapu (The light of the sacred woman)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la

A luna o Uwe Kahuna (Above Uwe Kahuna)
Ka pali kapu o Ka`au (The sacred cliff of Ka`au)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la)

Ea mai ke ali`i kia manu (The bird catching chief rises)
Ua wehi i ka hulu o ka mamo (Adorned with feathers of the mamo bird)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la)

Kalâkaua a he inoa (Kalâkaua is his name)
Ka pua mae`ole i ka la (A flower that wilts not in the sun)
Ea ea ea ea (Tra la la la)

Found in Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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