Archived 2011-2012 topics: Ua Pou Monarch (Pomarea mira): reassess as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)?

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012.

BirdLife species factsheet for Ua Pou Monarch

Ua Pou Monarch Pomarea mira is currently listed as Extinct, and has been since it was elevated to species status in the 2006 Red List update. It is known only from the island of Ua Pou in the Marquesas, French Polynesia. After the last accepted record in March 1985, it was not located during 1989, 1990 or during intensive searches in 1998 and 1999 (Thibault and Meyer 2001), and was therefore considered extinct. Its decline was probably caused by habitat loss and degradation, owing to over-grazing and fires, and introduced species such as black rats Rattus rattus.

However, hopes that the species is extant have been raised by an unconfirmed but convincing report of an adult male observed on Ua Pou in 2010, and as a result surveys are planned for 2012 (P. Raust in litt. 2011). Following this report, it has been surmised that some individuals of this species may survive, although they may not survive as a population (P. Raust in litt. 2012). Any remaining birds may only number up to 10 and may consequently be difficult to locate and survey owing to reduced vocal activity.

In light of this information it is proposed that the species be reassessed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), on the basis of an increased likelihood that some individuals survive. Comments on this proposed category change and further information would be welcomed.


Thibault, J.-C. and Meyer, J.-Y. (2001) Contemporary extinction and population declines of the monarchs (Pomarea spp.) in French Polynesia, South Pacific. Oryx 35: 73-80.

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3 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Ua Pou Monarch (Pomarea mira): reassess as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)?

  1. As “observations” by non professional observers of a distinctive black bird in forested areas are reccurent since the last 20 years this birds must be searched again on Ua Pou. SOP hopes to be able to survey the island in 2012.
    Note that there are also one testimony related to Pomarea fluxa on Eiao in 2005.

  2. I was searching to raise fund for the Tahiti Monarch near French Polynesian Society when I speak with a girl working for Air Tahiti Nui. I described the special behaviour of the Tahiti Monarch : a confiant species which stay sometime at two meters of you, singing, whereas most other (and introduced) birds flee. She said to me that she already see the species but on Ua Pou !, two years ago while crossing the island. She was lost and find a small black bird singing at two meters from her. he remained 5 minuts with her and perched at different places during this encounter. I sent to her a picture of an adult Tahiti Monarch, and she said it was the same bird (Male P. mira were fully black as P nigra of more than 3 years). I also called his guide and asked him to try to find this bird but he didn’t. He just described me a small black bird which never perch (probably a swallow) .We probably get fund for go (we are waiting for the answer, the project is pre-selected, we will be sure in one month, not before) and if it is the case, we will check by our self if the species is still present or not, at least near the last position the bird was see.
    With a 17 years life’s hope and the size of the island, the survival of some last males is not surprising (but may be he is dead now) however, the hope to find a remaining (or fertile) female is very low as we see in Tahiti and Fatu Hiva monarchs that females are first victims of black rats.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Jean-yves Meyer on 28 January 2012:

    a short answer from Mayotte island in the Indian Ocean (will be back to Tahiti next week) : I’m not awared of this recent observation and possible presence of Pomarea mira on Ua Pou. The identity of the Pomarea species should be scientifically confirmed first. I have personnally recorded the Marquesan endemic lorikeet Vini ultramarina on Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou where this species is supposed to be extinct in those two islands, these birds were probably recent natural introductions from the neighboring island of Ua Huka where it is still common (no black rat). There is a Pomarea (iphis) which is also relatively common in Ua Huka, and might “recolonize” Ua Pou…

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