Tag Archives: Solomon Islands

Ceyx pusillus ssp. aolae Ogilvie-Grant

Guadalcanal Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus ssp. aolae)

The Guadalcanal Little Kingfisher is one of the nine subspecies of the Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillaTemminck), a species that occurs from Australia to parts of melanesia; it is known only from the type specimen that was collected on the island of Guadalcanal, eastern Solomon Islands.

The single known specimen is very similar to Richard’s Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus ssp. richardsi Tristram) (see depiction) from the central Solomon Islands, it differs from that subspecies by its incomplete pectoral band and by its white, blue-tipped undertail coverts. [1]

The Guadalcanal Little Kingfisher is often thought to be extinct, this, however, is not entirely certain.

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References:

[1] C. Hilary Fry; Kathie Fry: Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, & Rollers. Helm 1992

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Richard’s Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus ssp. richardsi Tristram)

Depiction from: ‘H. B. Tristram: Notes on a collection of birds from the Solomon Islands, with descriptions of new species. The Ibis 133-146. 1882’

(not in copyright)

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edited: 01.11.2020

Uromys porculus Thomas

Guadalcanal Giant Rat (Uromys porculus)  

The Guadalcanal Giant Rat, described in 1904, was endemic to the island of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, it is known from a single male specimen that had been cought sometimes between 1886 and 1888.  

The species shared its habitat with another species of the same genus, the Emperor Rat (Uromys imperator (Thomas)), in contrast to that species, the Guadalcanal Giant Rat was not a giant at all, it reached a total length of only 35 cm, being half he size of its larger congener.  

The Guadalcanal Giant Rat is now most likely extinct, the main reason for this are the same as in its congeneric ‘cousin’ – predation by introduced feral cats.  

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edited: 06.05.2019

Pampusana jobiensis ssp. chalconotus (Mayr)

Vella Lavella White-breasted Ground Dove (Pampusana jobiensis ssp. chalconotus)

The Vella Lavella White-bibbed Ground Dove is a subspecies of the White-breasted Ground Dove (Pampusana jobiensis (A. B. Meyer)) that probably is rather treated as a full species.

The form is apparently known from only four specimens, two juvenile birds, a probably also not fully-grown female and a male.

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The Vella Lavella White-breasted Ground Dove is officially still extant, however, as far as I could find out, the species was last seen in the 1940s, no sightings did occur since then and it is quite likely extinct.

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edited: 09.03.2020 

Zoothera heinei ssp. choiseuli (E. J. O. Hartert)

Choiseul Russet-tailed Thrush (Zoothera heinei ssp. choiseuli)

The Choiseul Russet-tailed Thrush is thought to be endemic to the island of Choiseul, Solomon Islands.

The thrush has a size of about 20 cm, it has plain dark upperparts and an indistinct buffy moustachial stripe and eye-ring, the underparts are creamy-buff with dusky-brown scales, the belly and vent are whiter.

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This bird is known from a single specimen that was collected in 1904, since then none was ever found again … until 2013, when a juvenile bird that can be assigned to the same species was collected on the island of Santa Isabel, which is the neighbor island of Choiseul.

The question is now if this juvenile can be assigned to the same subspecies or if it represents a new one.

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The Choiseul Russet-tailed Thrush will stay on the blog until this question is finally solved.

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edited: 17.05.2019

Anas gracilis ssp. remissa Ripley

Rennell Island Teal (Anas gracilis ssp. remissa)

The island of Rennell is about 654 km² large and lies in the southeastern part of the Solomon islands chain; the easternmost part of that island is covered by a very large former lagoon which is now closed and filled with freshwater –  Lake Tenggano.

This lake was the sole home of a somewhat enigmatic duck, the Rennell Island Teal, which officially is considered a subspecies of the Sunda Teal (Anas gibberifrons Müller), a species that actually only inhabits parts of Indonesia, thus this assignment is probably quite wrong and it more likely should be assigned to the Grey Teal (Anas gracilis Buller) (see photo below).

The Rennell Island Teal differed only slightly from the Grey Teal and may in fact just have been a resident population of this very widespread trampy species.

The native duck population of Rennell Island begun to dwindle after the introduction of Mozambique Tilapias (Oreochromis mossambicus (W. K. H. Peters)) into Lake Tenggano; the last ducks were finally seen in 1959.

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Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)

Photo: Glen Fergus

(under creative commons license (3.0))
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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edited: 10.11.2021

Porphyrio sp. ‘Buka’

Buka Swamphen (Porphyrio sp. 

The Buka Swamphen is known only from (sub)fossil bones that had been found on the island of Buka, Solomon Islands.

The species has not yet been described, it was larger than any other member of its genus except for the likewise undescribed species recorded from the island of New Ireland. [1]

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The remains assigned to this species can be dated to Late Pleistocene age, the species, however, may well have survived into the Early Holocene and probably was soon extirpated by the first human settlers. [1] 

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References:  

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 18.05.2019

Gallinula silvestris (Mayr)

Makira Woodhen (Gallinula silvestris)

This species is only known from the type specimen that was shot on the island of Makira in the Solomon Islands in 1929.  

The Makira Woodhen reached a size of approx. 27 cm and was dark brown in color, the lower body, head and neck shimmered bluish, the bird was flightless.  

The last sighting took place in 1953 when a single bird was seen in the center of the island, according to the statements of the inhabitants of nearby villages, the rail was still quite common at that time.  

The species may still exist but would be highly threatened nonetheless.

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edited: 02.05.2021

Gallirallus sp. ‘Buka’

Buka Rail (Gallirallus sp.)

This rail species has not yet been formally described, it is known only from subfossil remains that were found on the island of Buka in the Solomon Islands.

The species was flightless and was very likely among the first species to be eredicated by the first Melanesian settlers. [1]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 22.05.2019

Uromys imperator (Thomas)

Emperor Rat (Uromys imperator)

The Emperor Rat, described in 1888, was endemic to the island of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, the species is known from only three specimens that all were taken between 1886 and 1888.

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The Emperor Rat was very large, reaching a total length of about 60 cm, including the tail. It is believed that this species inhabited the rainforests, probably being a ground-dweller and feeding on fruits and other plant material.

The species may have survived until the 1960s, since the native people at that time still knew of a large, ground-dwelling rat living in the forests. The main reason for its extinction very likely lies in the predation by introduced feral cats.

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edited: 06.05.2019

Pitta anerythra ssp. pallida Rothschild

Bougainville Pitta (Pitta anerythra ssp. pallida)

The Bougainville Pitta, sometimes regarded to as a distinct species, was described in 1904, it is, or was endemic to the island of Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and is believed to be either extremely rare and threatened or as being already extinct.

The form differs from the nominate race (depicted below) by its apparently slightly larger size, its nearly completely black head with a reddish brown stripe stretching from behind the eye to the back of the head, and by its very pale buff.

The Bougainville Pitta is a groud-dwelling species that also breeds on the ground, making it highly vulnerable to predation by introduced cats and rats, it is not yet officially listed as extinct, but having not been recorded in all recent surveys, it might already be so.
 
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Black-faced Pitta (Pitta anerythra); nominate race

Depiction from: ‘Walter Rothschild; Ernst Hartert: Further contributions to our knowledge of the ornis of the Colomon Islands. Novitates Zoologicae: a journal of zoology in connection with the Tring Museum. 12(2): 243-268. 1905’

(not in copyright)

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edited: 24.04.2019

Gallinula sp. ‘Buka’

Buka Gallinule (Gallinula sp.)

This species was one of several species that form a group of more or less flightless gallinules that apparently formerly inhabited large parts of Melanesia and western Polynesia, and of which only two survived at least into historical times: the Samoan Woodhen (Gallinula pacifica (Hartlaub & Finsch)) and the Makira Woodhen (Gallinula silvestris (Mayr)).

These species are sometimes placed in their own genus – Pareudiastes, which, however, cannot be accepted since a genus can only evolve once and not for several times.

Thus, all of the flightless gallinules from Oceania must be laced within the genus Gallinula, or, if they turn out to be somehow distinct enough, into their own different genera. 

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The Buka Gallinule is so far known only from subfossil remains, the species was definetly hunted by humans and probably died out mainly due to overhunting. [1]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 22.05.2019