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PUAIOHI } Myadestes palmeri

RANGE: Kauai

STATUS: This bird is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN and is listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

THREATS: Severe weather events, habitat alteration by humans, nonnative species, avian disease, global warming

The puaiohi, or small Kauai thrush, has been considered rare since it was first spotted in 1891. Today, it’s restricted to the center and southern parts of the Alaka’i Wilderness Preserve, where 75 percent of the breeding population occurs in fewer than four square miles of forest — and only a few hundred birds are estimated to remain. This brown, medium-sized thrush — often identified by its white eye rings — is secretive and prefers remote, inaccessible ravines. Though this bird is truly on the brink of extinction and faces numerous threats, there’s hope for recovery: The puaiohi’s strong reproductive potential has allowed biologists to breed a population in captivity, and reintroductions have shown promise. In 1999, a pair of released birds successfully hatched two chicks, marking the first milestone in Hawaii conservation efforts. Still, the bird’s entire wild population could be wiped out by a single hurricane.

Photo by Eike Wulfmeyer, Keauhou Bird Conservation Center