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Extinct and Extirpated Birds from Aitutaki and Atiu, Southern Cook Islands

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Title: Extinct and Extirpated Birds from Aitutaki and Atiu, Southern Cook Islands
Authors: Steadman, David W.
Issue Date: Oct 1991
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Steadman DW. 1991. Extinct and extirpated birds from Aitutaki and Atiu, Southern Cook Islands. Pac Sci 45(4): 325-347.
Abstract: Six archaeological sites up to 1000 years old on Aitutaki, Cook
Islands, have yielded bones of 15 species of birds, five of which no longer occur
on the island: Pterodroma rostrata (Tahiti Petrel); Sula sula (Red-footed Booby);
Dendrocygna, undescribed sp. (a large, extinct whistling duck); Porzana tabuensis
(Sooty Crake); and Vini kuhlii (Rimatara Lorikeet). Of these, only S. sula and
P. tabuensis survive anywhere in the Cook Islands today. The nearest record of
any speciesofDendrocygna is in Fiji. Aside from the aquatic species Egretta sacra
(Pacific Reef-Heron) and Anas superciliosa (Gray Duck), the only native, resident
land bird on Aitutaki today is the Society Islands Lorikeet (Vini peruviana),
which may have been introduced from Tahiti. Residents of Aitutaki note that
Ducula pacifica (Pacific Pigeon) and Ptilinopus rarotongensis (Cook Islands
Fruit-Dove) also occurred there until the 1940sor 1950s.There is no indigenous
forest on Aitutaki today. The bones from Aitutaki also include the island's first
record of the fruit bat Pteropus tonganus . Limestone caves on the island of Atiu
yielded the undated bones of six species of birds, three of which no longer exist
there or anywhere else in the Cook Islands: Gallicolumba erythroptera (Society
Islands Ground-Dove), Ducula aurorae (Society Islands Pigeon), and Vini kuhlii.
Each of these species has been recovered from prehistoric sites on Mangaia as
well. The limestone terrain of Atiu is mostly covered with native forest that
supports populations of Ducula pacifica, Ptilinopus rarotongensis, Collocalia
sawtelli (Atiu Swiftlet), and Halcyon tuta (Chattering Kingfisher). The survival
of these land birds depends upon protection of Atiu's forests.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/1400
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 45, Number 4, 1991



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