Tag Archives: Hemignathus lucidus ssp. hanapepe (Wilson)

Hemignathus hanapepe (Wilson)

Kauai Nukupuu (Hemignathus hanapepe)  

The Kauai Nukupuu, often still treated as a subspecies of the Oahu Nukupuu (Hemignathus lucidusLichtenstein), was restricted to the island of Kaua’i, Hawaiian Islands.  

The species reached a size of about 15 cm, it was sexually dimorphic with the males having the head and underparts bright yellow, while the females were more or less completely olive-green [see depiction].  


In pre-human times, the Kauai Nukupuu occurred all over the island, including the lowland areas. The first Polynesian settlers deforested nearly all the lowland areas and converted them into agriculture land, thus destroying the habitat of most endemic lowland birds. Many of these birds disappeared completely, some managed to survive in areas at higher altitudes. Thus, the Kauai Nukupuu was restricted to higher elevations when it was discovered and described by western scientists.  

The last confirmed sightings were made sometimes in the 1890s, however, the species had certainly survived for about 100 years longer.  

The last remaining members of this species found their last refuge in the Alaka’i swamp area – together with some other last survivors, but they disappeared when mosquitos, carrying introduced deadly bird diseases, finally entered this remote area sometimes in the 1960s.  



[1] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[2] H. Douglas Pratt, Phillip L. Bruner, Delwyn G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987 
[3] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987 [4] H. Douglass 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: 05.04.2018