Tag Archives: Oriolidae

Turnagra capensis ssp. minor Fleming

Stephens Island Piopio (Turnagra capensis ssp. minor)

Stephens Island, or Takapourewa in Maori, is best known for having been the last stronghold for another extinct species of bird, the Stephens Island Wren (Traversia lyallii (Rothschild)) whose last population is widely believed to have been wiped out by a single cat.

Yet, this island was also the home of another rather unknown bird, the Stephens Island Piopio, which was a small subspecies of the South Island Piopio (Turnagra capensis (Sparrman)).
The Stephens Island Piopio was formerly so numerous on the island that “there was scarcely a bush in which at least one could be seen.” [1] However, today only 12 museum specimens are all that remains of that bird. [2]


The Stephens Island Piopio was for some time considered to be synonymous with the nominate form, yet it differs from that race by its much smaller size and by its rather more rufescent color. [2]


The small piopio disappeared for the same reason as its more famous neighbor, the Stephens Island Wren: nearly complete habitat destruction and hunting pressure by introduced feral cats.


[1] E. Lukins: Stephen Island. The French Pass and vicinity. Colonist 27 & 30 October 1894 
[2] David G. Medway: Taxonomic status of the Stephens island Piopio (Turnagra capensis). Notornis 51: 231-232. 2004


edited: 03.10.2020

Oriolus steerii ssp. assimilis Tweeddale

Cebu Oriole (Oriolus steerii ssp. assimilis)

The Philippine Oriole, as its name implies, is endemic to the Philippine Islands, with five subspecies being usually recognized. The subspecies from the island of Cebu, almost right in the middle of the Philippine archipelago, was described in 1878, originally as a distinct species.

The Philippines are well known to be among the most severely deforested places in the tropics with some islands having been almost completely ripped from their native vegetation, this is also the case with Cebu, where only very, very small remnants of the former forest remain, leading to the near or even complete extinction of many of its native ornithofauna. 

The Cebu Oriole was last seen in 1906 and was usually considered extinct, however, there appears to have been a sighting in the early 2000s, which has never been confirmed.


The most recent field studies undertaken in the years from 2001 to 2004 actually manage to rediscover 20 of the species respectively subspecies of birds that were thought to have been extirpated from Cebu, many of them endemic to the island, four of the endemic subspecies, however, were not rediscovered and are now clearly extinct. 

Among these four subspecies was the Cebu Oriole. [1]



[1] Lisa Marie J. Paguntalan; Philip Godfrey Jakosalem: Significant records of birds in forests on Cebu Island, central Philippines. Forktail 24: 48-56. 2008


Depiction from: ‘Arthur, Marquis of Tweeddale: Contributions to the ornithology of the Philippines. – No. II. on the collection made by Mr. A. H. Everett in the island of Zebu. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1877: 755-769’

(public domain)


edited: 25.05.2019