Drepanis funerea Newton

Black Mamo (Drepanis funerea)  

The Black Mamo was discovered in 1893 by Robert C. L. Perkins, a British ornithologist.  

The species is known historically only from the island of Moloka’i, but did occur in former times on the neighboring island of Maui as well, as is known from subfossil remains. [2]  

The species reached a size of 20 cm, it was completely black except for its outer wing feathers, which were silvery grey.  

The species certainly fed solely on nectar, especially that of the many endemic shrubby and tree-like lobelioid species.  


Some information about the habits of this species were made by William A. Bryan in 1907, when he collected the last specimen of this species.:  

Hopping from tree to tree, it worked its way around the head of the little side valley, up which it had come in answer to my call, to where a large purple-flowered lobelia was in profuse blossom, and began to feed. The ease and grace with which the feat was accomplished was indeed interesting, and left no doubt in my mind as to one of the probable causes of the remarkable development of the tongue and bill. The tongue was inserted with great precision, up to the nostrils, in the flower, while the bird balanced itself on the branches, assuming almost every imaginable attitude in its operations. In all three of the birds, secured, the crown was smeared with the sticky purplish white pollen of this lobelia.” [1]


The Hawaiians knew the bird as hoa. Another name that is sometimes assigned to this species is ‘o’o nuku’umu [‘o’o [with] beak sucking], a name of unknown origin that apparently was only ever used by Robert C. L. Perkins for unknown reasons. [1]  


Depiction from: ‘W. Rothschild: The Avifauna of Laysan and the neighbouring islands with a complete history to date of the birds of the Hawaiian possession. 1893-1900’    

(public domain)



[1] W. A. Bryan: Some Birds of Molokai. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 4(2): 43-86. 1908 
[2] S. L. Olson; H. F. James: Descriptions of thirty-two new species of birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part II. Passeriformes. Ornithological Monographs 45: 1-91. 1991 
[3] H. Douglass Pratt: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005  


edited: 24.09.2017