Tag Archives: Akialoa elisiana (Gray) Olson & James

Hemignathus ellisianus (Gray)

Oahu Akialoa (Hemignathus ellisianus)  

The Oahu Akialoa is known for a certainty on the basis of only two specimens, which were collected sometimes during the 1830s, when the species was already very close to extinction.  

The bird reached a size of about 19 cm.  

The species was known locally as ‘akialoa or kipi, the term ‘akia is a standardised term for green birds wird curved bills, loa, meaning large, regards to the large size of the bird, thus, the name of the bird can be translated as “Large Curve-billed Green Bird”.  The meaning of the term kipi, however, is not known to me.  

Other names were iiwi or iwi. [2]


The last confirmed sighting was in 1892, when Robert C. L. Perkins, the famous naturalist, who often was the last eyewitness for several of the drepanidid species, saw a pair in the Nu’uanu Valley, he shot one of the two birds, however, could not detect the unlucky fellow.:

However, on one occasion, I saw a pair of this species, the one chasing the other over a narrow ridge high up in the mountains. The leading bird passed over this ridge and down into the deep gulch on the other side, squeaking as it flew, the other alighted in an Ohia tree on the top of the ridge about 10 yards in front of me. The latter when I shot dropped over the steep edge and after much searching I was unable to find it. I distinctly nopticed the sombre plumage of the upper parts, which in no way approached the yellowe colour of the other species with which I was then familiar.” [2]

There are some subsequent records, yet not confirmed, dating to 1937, 1939 and 1940 respectively, indicating that the species may have survived for a while longer.  



[1] R. C. L. Perkins: Notes on Collecting in Kona. The Ibis 6(5): 101-111. 1893 
[2] R. C. L. Perkins: Vertebrata. in: Fauna Hawaiiensis 1(4): 365-466. 1899-1913
[3] D. Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[4] H. D. Pratt; P. L. Bruner; D. G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987 
[5] E. Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987 
[6] H. D. Pratt: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005    


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)


edited: 09.10.2020