Viridonia sagittirostris (Rothschild, 1892)
The Greater 'Amakihi (Hemignathus sagittirostris) was a species of finch in the Fringillidae family. It was found only in the Island of Hawaii. The species was last recorded in 1901 and is now considered extinct.
The Greater Amakihi, also known as the Green Solitaire while it was extant, was the largest recent Amakihi. It was brownish winged bird with a yellow body ending with a notched tail, and a whitish pointed beak. It was six inches long and it had blackish brown legs. (At least one naturalist of the era, however, noted, "The beautiful blue of the legs is retained in the skin for only a few days and then fades almost to black.") The major difference between it and its relative was that its bill was white and the fact that the bird was six inches in comparison to the four inch Hawaiian Amakihi.
It lived in a small tract of forest where it crept through the vines and trees for insects as part of its diet. It was not discovered until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, by Henry Palmer, who collected in the islands between 1890 and 1893, and it was apparently unknown to natives. It was thought to have been seen sipping nectar from O’hia trees. It was thought to have gone extinct when the only population was killed when the land they lived on was turned into a sugar plantation. After the land around Hilo was cleared in 1901, the bird was never spotted again.
The ironic thing was that all large scale plantations like the one that was made on the Greater Amakihi’s land was abandoned. It appears not to have been widespread, and found rarely.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Hemignathus sagittirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Letter from Henry Henshaw to Walter Rothschild, London Natural History Museum Archives, Feb. 6, 1900, Series TM1/156/10
- Henshaw, Henry (1902). Birds of the Hawaiian Islands. Thos. G. Thrum. p. 43.
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