Oma’o (Myadestes obscurus)

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Oma'o
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Oma’o fact file

Oma’o description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyTurdidae
GenusMyadestes (1)

This small, drab thrush has a grey-brown head, olive-brown upperparts, and pale grey underparts. The bill and legs are blackish. Juveniles have dark brown upperparts, heavily spotted with a whitish-buff (2). Throughout the year, both males and females can be heard on their perches singing a pleasant, jerky melody, and males also perform a flight-song display known as “skylarking” (2) (3). Due to their dull, inconspicuous appearance, they are often detected firstly by their voice (4).

Size
Length: 18 – 19.5 cm (2)
Weight
49 – 52 g (2)
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Oma’o biology

The oma’o is generally a solitary bird, but can be found in pairs throughout the year, with pair bonds lasting at least one breeding season (4). The breeding season lasts from January to the end of October (2), with females bearing the responsibility of constructing the nest, and incubating the one or two eggs that are laid (4). The nest is a loose, bulky cup of ferns, moss, leaves and small twigs, sometimes lined with grass, pine needles or flower parts (2). Incubation lasts for about 16 days, and the young remain in the nest for about 19 days before fledging. Both sexes feed the nestlings, and both adults provide parental care for five to six weeks after the young birds leave the nest (4), although they may remain in the natal territory for up to six months (2).

Oma'os are primarily frugivorous, feeding on a wide variety of fruits from understorey shrubs and trees, however it also forages in the forest canopy for invertebrates (2), including earthworms, snails, spiders and insects (3). The oma’o rarely forages on the ground, except for the alpine scrub population, where the diet consists of low-growing berries, and terrestrial invertebrates (2).

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Oma’o habitat

The oma’o inhabits mesic and wet native forests above 1,000 meters, which are characterized by a closed forest canopy, and an understorey composed of a variety of fruiting trees. It also occurs at lower densities in scrub and savannah, and one population is known to occur in treeless alpine scrub above 2,000 meters (2).

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Oma’o status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Oma’o threats

The oma’o occurs in just a few localities on one island, and thus is vulnerable to threats, despite healthy population numbers at present (5). In the past, habitat clearance for firewood, timber, agriculture and pasture has resulted in the species inhabiting only 25 to 30 percent of its former range (2). Its current distribution has also been heavily influenced by the presence of introduced mosquitoes, which spread avian malaria and avian pox (2) (5). However, there is evidence that oma’o have developed some resistance to the current strains of these diseases, as this species persists, whilst others have disappeared. Nevertheless, the oma’o still occurs at greater densities above 1,500 meters, where mosquitoes are less common (4). A potential future threat is the introduction of a cold-tolerant mosquito, along with new avian diseases (4). Further pressure on the oma’o comes from the spread of feral predatory mammals, such as rats and cats, into upland forests. In addition, the degradation of habitat caused by feral ungulates, particularly pigs, is likely to have caused the destruction of native plants important to the oma’o’s diet (2) (3).

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Oma’o conservation

The oma’o occurs in several well-managed protected areas, such as the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (6), and the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (7). This follows efforts during the 1980s and 1990s to purchase, protect and manage remaining areas of natural forest above 1,500 meters (2) (4). There have also been efforts to control and fence out feral pigs, goats, cattle and sheep, but there has not been any evidence yet that this has resulted in an increase in bird numbers (4). The presence of rats continues to be a significant problem to the oma’o and other native Hawaiian birds, and thus the implementation of a rat control program has been proposed (3) (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on the oma’o see NatureServe:
http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/index.htm

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Forages
Searches for food.
Frugivorous
Fruit-eating.
Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone.
Mesic
A type of habitat with a moderate or well-balanced supply of moisture.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2005) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Hawaii's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (June, 2007)
    http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/cwcs/Conservation_need.htm
  4. National Audubon Society (June, 2007)
    http://www.audubon2.org/webapp/watchlist/viewSpecies.jsp?id=153
  5. BirdLife International (June, 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=6350&m=0
  6. National Parks Service (June, 2007)
    http://www.nps.gov/havo/
  7. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (June, 2007)
    http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/wnwr/bhakalaunwr.html
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Image credit

Oma'o  
Oma'o

© Peter LaTourrette / birdphotography.com

birdphotography.com
1019 Loma Prieta Court
Los Altos
California
94024
United States of America
Tel: +01 (650) 961 2741
peter@birdphotography.com
http://www.birdphotography.com

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