Tag Archives: Tanna

Prosopeia sp. ‘Tanna’

Tanna Parrot (Prosopeia sp.

There is a little account, or rather a kind of side note, that tells us of a parrot that once appers to have existed on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu. This little account from August 16, 1774 was made by Georg Forster on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu during James Cook’s second voyage around the world.:

The next morning we came ashore again, and immediately walked into the woods on the plain. We saw a great number of large and beautiful parroquets, of black, red, and yellow plumage; but they kept on the tops of the highest fig-trees, where they were wholly out of the reach of small shot, guarded by the thick foliage.” [1]


Julian P. Hume thinks that this account most likely refers to a species of the genus Prosopeia, which otherwise is only known from the Fijian Islands. [2]

I personally, reading about the colors given in the account, do rather think that this account might rather be attributed to some kind of lorikeet, most likely from the genus Chalcopsitta or maybe Lorius, I will nevertheless maintain the name Prosopeia sp. given by Mr. Hume to avoid any confusions.



[1] George Forster: A voyage round the world, in his Britannic Majesty’s Sloop, Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the years 1772, 3, 4, and 5. London: printed for B. White, Fleet-Street; J. Robson, Bond-Street; P. Elmsly, Strand; and G. Robinson, Pater-noster-Row. Vol. II. 1778
[2] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds: 2nd edition 2017


edited: 11.02.2020

Pampusana ferruginea (Forster)

Tanna Ground Dove (Pampusana ferruginea)

The Tanna Ground-Dove was originally known from two specimens, a male and a female collected on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, which, however, both are now lost.

The species is often thought to have been most closely related to the Santa Cruz Ground Dove (Pampusana sanctaecrucis (Mayr)) from the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands north of Vanuatu, however, I personally have some doubts and prefer, for geographical reasons, to think that it may have been more closely related to the Friendly Ground Dove from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

All of these Pacific groud dove species are now highly threatened with extinction.


The only ‘remain’ that proves the former existence of the tanna ground Dove is a drawing of the female specimens made by G. Forster in the 18th century.

The local name of this species was recorded as having been mahk.


Depiction: Georg Forster, 1774

(public domain)


edited: 09.03.2020