Tag Archives: Macquarie Island

Anas sp. ‘Macquarie Islands’

Macquarie Island Duck (Anas sp.)

 

The Macquarie Island Duck is known only from subfossil bones that were recovered from deposits on the island of Macquarie in the subantarctic Pacific Ocean. [1]

This was a flightless duck, very much alike the likewise flightless Auckland Teal (Anas aucklandica Gray) which inhabits the Auckland Islands in the subantarctic part of New Zealand or the Campbell Island teal (Anas nesiotis J. H. Fleming), which again is restricted to the subantarctic Campbell Islands, and which once was also almost extinct.

The Macquarie Island Duck certainly fell victim to the cats that had been imported to its island home by sailors and whalers that used Macquarie Island as a base camp.

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References:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy, Richard N. Holdaway: The Lost World of the Moa, Prehistoric Life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2002
[2] Alan J. D. Tennyson; R. Paul Scofiled: Holocene fossil bird remains from subantarctic Macquarie Island. Paleornithological Research. Proceed. 8th Internat. Meeting Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution 2013

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Auckland Teal (Anas aucklandica Gray) (the two birds on the right) together with New Zealand Brown Duck (Anas chlorotis)

Depiction from: ‘John C. Phillips: A Natural History of the Ducks. Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company; 1922-1926’

(public domain)

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edited: 10.11.2021

Cyanoramphus erythrotis (Wagler)

Macquarie Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus erythrotis)  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet once was the southernmost living parrot species in the world, it was endemic to the subantarctic Maquarie Island, a cold, harsh, and rainy island, that today is known especially for its very large penguin colonies.  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet had a similar lifestyle as the Antipodes Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor (Lear)) and Reischek’s Parakeet (Cyanoramphus hochstetteri (Reischek)), which both inhabit the subantarctic Antipodes Islands.  

The Antipodes Islands do not harbor trees, thus the parakeets there life exclusively on the ground, the eggs are laid in abandoned burrows made by seabirds or ‘under the open air’ sheltered by overhanging tussock grass.  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet lived in a similar way, and probably also occasionally killed and fed upon seabird chicks, as does the Antipodes Parakeet (very much like the Kea (Nestor notabilis Gould) in New Zealand’s Southern Alps).  

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The Macquarie Island Parakeet was long treated as a subspecies of the New Zealand Red-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Sparrman)), but is now known to have been a distinct species. [3]  

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Within the 19th century many animals were introduced the Macquarie Island, including cats, mice, rabbits, rats and weka rails, the last-mentioned brought from New Zealand. (As far as I know, all of these introduced species have been eradicated in the meantime!) The mice and especially the rabbits destroyed much of the vegetation, the cats killed the adult parakeets, the rats and the weka rails destroyed the birds’ clutches.  

The last Macquarie Island Parakeets died in the year 1913.  

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References:  

[1] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[2] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987 [3] Wee Ming Boon; Jonathan C. Kearvell, Charles H. Daugherty; Geoffrey K. Chambers: ‘Molecular systematics and conservation of kakariki (Cyanoramphus spp.). Science for Conservation 176: 1-46. 2001

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edited: 11.02.2020