Chatham Bellbird – It Was Very Good

Chatham Bellbird
Chatham Bellbird – Charles Joseph Hullmandel, 1843

Chatham Bellbird (Anthornis melanocephala)

The Chatham Bellbird is an extinct species of bird endemic to the Chatham, Mangere, and Little Mangere Islands of New Zealand. The Chatham was related to the common New Zealand Bellbird. Chathams were larger than their New Zealand counterparts and had particularly long wings and legs. The head color of Chatham males also was darker. Finally, the bright yellow iris of Chatham bellbirds was completely different from the red iris color of New Zealand bellbirds

The Chatham Island bellbird was green with a short, curved bill, slightly forked tail. Adult males were olive green, slightly paler on the underparts, with the forehead and crown steel blue, changing to a purplish-blue gloss on the sides of the head, nape, throat, and upper breast; the wings and tail were blackish. Females were browner, with a narrow white-yellow stripe across the cheek from the base of the bill, and bluish gloss on top of the head. Both sexes had bright yellow eyes.

Chatham Bellbird
Chatham Bellbird specimens

The Chatham Bellbird was last recorded on Little Mangere Island in 1906. An expedition in the 1930s was unable to find any specimens.

The reasons for its decline are obscure, but a combination of habitat destruction, predation by introduced rats and cats, and over-collection for the museum trade is suspected.

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Author: Jonathon

Would rather be out swimming, running, or camping. Works in state government. Spent a youth reading genre-fiction; today, he is making up for it by reading large quantities of non-fiction literature. The fact that truth, in every way, is more fascinating than fiction still tickles him.

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