Hawaii’s forests aren’t as loud as they were 50 or 100 years ago, or the riverbeds of the Appalachian Mountains as full of mussels. Several birds and molluscs are among the 23 species that were previously on the endangered species list and have now been declared extinct by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Human activity that destroys or pollutes habitat threatens all species, but these 11 birds, eight freshwater mussels, two fish, a plant and a bat no longer stand a chance of being protected. Here’s a brief guided tour of some of the creatures we’ve lost.
This small warbler, previously found in the south and southeast of the country, was last seen in 1988. It was initially listed as endangered in 1967, after a dramatic decline in the population from the early to mid-1900s. The yellow-bellied bird lived in wooded, moist areas along the ground.
Slanted white eyes
This four-inch green and yellow bird was listed as endangered in 1984, but has not been spotted since 1983 in Guam, the westernmost territory of the United States. This little bird wore glasses back then, with distinct circles around the eyes.
This bird, the subject of much controversy in birding, covered the southeastern part of the country and even made its way to Illinois. It was officially last spotted in 1944 and listed in 1967, but was reportedly sighted in 2005 by a kayaker in Arkansas. The kayaker, Gene Sterling, and two bird watchers, Tim Gallagher and Bobby Harrison, set out in search of the peak, but upon seeing it, he screamed in excitement and scared it away. The only evidence was a video that could not confirm the existence of this fateful ivory-billed woodpecker.
This yellow bird native to Hawaii has not been seen since 1969 and its listing only became official two years earlier. It preyed on insects in the humid forests of Hawaii with its long, downward curved beak.
Another native of Hawaii, this green and yellow bird laid its eggs in cup-shaped nests. This bird has not been seen in its habitat in the humid or moderately humid forests of Kauai since 1899, although it did not officially join the endangered species list until 1970.
This long black bird has suffered habitat degradation in Kauai’s wetlands, last seen in 1967. This bird has been recognized as fairly territorial, with both male and female birds chasing other birds from their space.
Great Thrush Kauai
This bird resided at high altitudes in Kauai and was about eight inches tall. The brown and olive creature was listed in 1970 and has not been officially identified since 1987.
Mariana’s Little Bat
This little brown fruit bat has not been officially sighted since 1968 and was recorded in 1984. The tiny creature only reached a size of six inches at most and feasted on fruits, berries, insects , etc. It is commonly mistaken for the fruit bat Mariana, another slightly larger fruit bat also residing in Guam.
The Maui ākepa sang a twittering trill that has not been heard since 1995. This bird’s neighbor, the Hawaii ākepa, still sings its song and flutters its brightest feathers on Hawaii’s largest island, but Maui does ‘hear no more singing. The last population was estimated at around 230 in the 1980s, and the bird was last seen officially in 1988.
Molokai climbing plant
This slender, five-inch-long bird has been found in humid forests above 4,000 feet, in a plateau area of Hawaii called Olokui. The majority of this bird’s habitat has been lost to agriculture, and it has not been officially seen since 1963.
The small Po`ouli, with black facial feathers, a white throat and a gray head is a calm bird whose call was not often heard before its last sighting. The last known habitat for these birds was Hanawi Nature Reserve in Maui, with their last confirmed sighting being in 2004.
It is not known what caused the disappearance of this fish, as it has not been identified since 1957. It foraged at the bottom of bodies of water, filling up with all kinds of vegetation and animal life. This tiny fish also has venom in its spine and was known to cause minor irritation if picked up. The photo above is one of 18 boobies ever captured, which are in a collection at Ohio State University Museum of Biological Diversity.
Highland combshell mussel
This mussel needs clean water and an undisturbed river bed to reproduce, and host fish to which developing mussels attach themselves. It was last seen officially in the mid-1980s.
Tubular flower pearl mussel
This sometimes egg-shaped mussel fed at the bottom of rivers with the same siphoning method as the southern acorn shell. Its green or yellow coloration could be found in the large rivers of Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee, and at one point in most of the large rivers in the eastern United States and even from Ontario, Canada. He has not been seen since 1969.