October DAB-Day features 11 United States birds now extinct
We mourn the permanent loss to the world of 11 species of birds now listed as extinct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement in the past week. Seven of the species were found only in Hawaii.
At the suggestion of Wednesday Studio member Anne Shields, we are devoting this month’s Draw-a-Bird Day to these extinct birds.
Judith Davis: Icon of Audubon’s “Chieftain:” Extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Matte acrylic with pen and ink. Last seen in 1944. Judith said, “The ivory-billed woodpecker’s habitat was destroyed by greed and over-logging of the cypress trees. The birds ate a specific beetle’s grubs and would tear great swaths of bark off to get to the grubs.” The trees show the bare spots where the bark was torn off, and Judith painted a beetle on the tree with the female.
Tom Eichenberger: Bridled White-Eye. Felt-tip markers. A tropical lowland forest bird from Guam that was 4 inches long and was last seen in 1983. It became extinct because of predation from the invasive and nonnative brown tree snake, which consumed adults, nestlings, and eggs. [ Ed. note: We will never have a Draw-a-Snake Day.]
Anne Shields: Maui Nukupu’u. Pastel. Last seen in 1996. The nukupu’u (honeycreepers) inhabited forests on three islands—Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. Each island supported its own subspecies.
Lynne Malonnee Schlimm: Kauai Nukupuʻu. Watercolor and ink. Last seen in 1899. A honeycreeper. See the caption above for the Maui nukupu’u. This insect eater was abundant until the 19th century, when slash-and-burn farming methods destroyed its habitat.
Pat Stocks: Large Kauai Thrush. Pastel. The adult bird was about 8″ long. Land clearing and avian malaria brought on by introduced mosquitoes decimated the birds. In the 1880s it was the most common bird on Kauai. In 1973, only 337 birds were estimated to exist, with the last confirmed sighting in 1987.
Carolyn Rondthaler: Bachman’s Warbler. Watercolor. 1988. This small yellow and black songbird once bred in swampy thickets in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee and overwintered in Cuba, where it was seen for the last time in 1988. The bird had not been seen in the United States since 1962. It was lost to habitat destruction and collection.
Nancy Arbuthnot: Specimen Box: Bachman’s Warbler. Watercolor and ink. See caption for Bachman’s Warbler, above.
Ellen Cornett: Po`ouli. Colored pencil on toned paper. Last seen in 2004. Known as the black-faced honeycreeper, this bird was a native of Maui.
Vince Iannacchione: Kauai `O`o. Colored pencil. Common in the subtropical forests of Kauai until the early 20th century, when its decline began. It was last seen in 1985 and last heard in 1987. The causes of its extinction include the introduction of the Polynesian rat, the domestic pig, and mosquitoes, as well as habitat destruction.
Tara Hamilton: Maui Akepa. Watercolor. Last seen in 1988. This bird, 4″ long, was common on much of Maui in the early 20th century. Its condition as a species began to deteriorate as new plants replaced those that it was familiar with.
Tom Eichenberger: Molaka’i Creeper. Felt-tip markers. This bird was about 5″ long. Causes of extinction were probably similar to those of other Hawaiian forest birds: habitat destruction, avian disease spread by introduced mosquitoes, and introduced predators.
Marian Wiseman: Kauai Akialoa. Watercolor. The last documented sighting was in 1967. The Kauai akialoa was believed to have lived in forests higher than 1,148 feet above sea level, but was frequently observed flying to the lower elevations of the island. Many people believe that the bird’s frequent ventures to lower elevations were its undoing, possibly due to a low-elevation avian disease carried by an invasive species of mosquito.