Tag Archives: Ofu

Megapodius pritchardii ssp. ‘Samoa’

Samoan Megapode (Megapodius pritchardii ssp.)

This taxon is known exclusively on the basis of subfossil bones, found on the small island of Ofu, part of ‘American’ Samoa.

The remains were tentatively identified as possibly belonging to the Tongan Megapode (Megapodius cf. pritchardii), if so, they may have been a local subspecies. [2]


This form may be the bird that was described (as Megapodius stairi Gray) based on a single egg found on the island of Savai’i.:

Nach Bennett (Proc. 1862. p. 247) erhielt Dawson auch die lebenden Vögel auf Sava- oder Russel-Island, die indess leider auf der Ueberfahrt nach Sydney starben. Die Eingeborenen kennen diese Hühner sehr gut und sammeln die Eier fleissig, mit welchen sie Handel treiben. Ein Weibchen legt täglich 2-4 Eier.” 


According to Bennett (Proc. 1862. p. 247) Dawson obtained also the life birds on Sava- or Russel Island [Savai’i], which, however, unfortunately died during the crossing to Sydney. The natives know these chickens very well and diligently collect the eggs, with which they trade. A female lays 2-4 eggs on the daily [I personally doubt that number!].” [1]



[1] O. Finsch; G. Hartlaub: Beitrag zur Fauna Centralpolynesiens. Ornthologie der Viti-, Samoa- und Tonga-Inseln. Halle, H. W. Schmidt 1867
[2] David W. Steadman: Extinction and biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006


Charmosyna sp. ‘Samoa’

Samoan Lorikeet (Charmosyna sp.)  

The Samoan Lorikeet is a hypothetical species that might in fact once have existed, it is, however, not fully understood if it was a native form of the Samoan Islands, or if it may have also occurred on the Tongan Islands as well, or if it might have originted from somewhere else and was just traded among these island groups. [2]

All we know about this very enigmatic form comes from a single account, made by Otto von Kotzebue, a Russian officer and navigator in the Imperial Russian Navy, in the early 19th century; his reports, however, are otherwise incredibly contemptuous, inhumane and racist and speak of the local Polynesian people as cannibals and wild, blood-thirsty almost-animals etc..:

Noch eines Handelsartikels auf unserem Markte muß ich erwähnen. Es waren gezähmte Tauben und Papageyen. Erstere weichen von den europäischen sowohl in der Form, als in der Farbenpracht sehr ab. Auch waren ihre Klauen, mit denen sie sich, wie Spechte, an die Taue haften, anders gestaltet. Die Papagayen waren nur von der Größe eines Sperlings, mit dem lebhaftesten Roth und Grün gezeichnet, und der rothe Schweif übertraf an Länge den Körper wohl um vier Mal.” [1]


One more item on our market I have to mention. These were tamed pigeons and parrots. The former differ markedly from the European ones in their form and in their colorfulness. Their claws, with which they, like woodpeckers, cling to the ropes, were also designed differently. The parrots were only the size of a sparrow, painted with the most vivid red and green, and the red tail was perhaps four times longer than the body.


The specific account apparently was made on or offshore an island named Olajava, according to the description given by Kotzebue I personally think that the island in question is the one today known as Ofu in American Samoa. 



[1] Otto von Kotzebue: Reise um die Welt in den Jahren 1823, 24, 25 und 26. Weimar: W. Hoffman 1830
[2] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds: Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017


edited: 12.02.2020