The Kioea (Chaetoptila angustipluma) is one of the vanished birds of Hawaii. Its story was a much a mystery during its life as it was after its extinction. Only four preserved specimens exist, and no current evidence indicates that the Kioea was a part of local folklore, nor incorporated in Hawaiian featherwork.
The Kioea, approximately the size of a crow, had moss green and chartreuse yellow feathers, and dark auriculars under its eyes. The species had two interesting adaptations — a fringed-tongue paired with a curved beak for nectar-feeding and wispy feathers as fine as hair.
During the 1838-1842 United States Exploring Expedition, artist and naturalist Titian Peale wrote that the Kioea, “is disposed to be musical.” The Kioea was last seen in 1859 gracefully fluttering through the flowers that reclaimed the Kīlauea volcanic eruption.
Kioea is a tribute to the natural world. The Kioea’s story inspires new songs and awareness for sustainability. Here in New England the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming areas of oceans in the world. So the changes that shaped the Kioea are globally present.