• Scientific Name: Pomarea nigra (Sparrman, 1786)
  • Polynesian Names: ‘Omama’o (Tahiti), ‘omama’o-uri (adult / Tahiti), ‘omama’o-pua-fau (young / Tahiti)
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Monarchidae
  • CategoryEndemic Birds
  • Location : Society, Tahiti only

Apearance and identification

6 inches. The plumage do not identify the sex of the bird. Adults over four years are uniformly black. Its beak is blue slate pulling to the white and its legs are blue. Birds below two years of age are orange with a spout that changes from yellow to grey. With age, brown and black spots appear on the plumage. Firstly located on the back and wings, they extend gradually over the entire body.

Video and photos from Alain PETIT

The birds gradually become entirely black, the last light areas being located on the head and stomach.

Video

Jeune Monarque de Tahiti © Alain Petit

Voice

Characteristics

Only Tahiti.

These birds build nests from August to February in which they lay a single egg that hatches after 13-14 days. The young remain in the nest for about two weeks. He is raised by both parents for more than two months after its first flight.

Autrefois présente dans les forêts d’altitude (Mont Marau), dans les vallées et sur la frange littorale de l’île. L’espèce ne persiste plus désormais que dans trois vallées des districts de Paea et de Punaauia et dans quelques zones de moyenne altitude (200 à 500 mètres). Inféodée aux forêts de mara (Neonauclea fosteri), l’espèce s’accommode de zones fortement colonisées par le Tulipier du Gabon (Spathodea campanulata) et le piti (Tecoma stans).

Short and strong calls at 4-5 different tones, he sings to defend a vast forest area of several hectares. The calls of these birds vary from one valley to another. Both sexes have loud call of alarm and sound like “tchip-tchip-tchip-tchip …” in case of danger or high excitement.

Insects caught in flight, trees and shrubs, ground and in ferns, spiders.

Location

Only Tahiti.

Breeding

These birds build nests from August to February in which they lay a single egg that hatches after 13-14 days. The young remain in the nest for about two weeks. He is raised by both parents for more than two months after its first flight.

Habitat

Autrefois présente dans les forêts d’altitude (Mont Marau), dans les vallées et sur la frange littorale de l’île. L’espèce ne persiste plus désormais que dans trois vallées des districts de Paea et de Punaauia et dans quelques zones de moyenne altitude (200 à 500 mètres). Inféodée aux forêts de mara (Neonauclea fosteri), l’espèce s’accommode de zones fortement colonisées par le Tulipier du Gabon (Spathodea campanulata) et le piti (Tecoma stans).

Voice

Short and strong calls at 4-5 different tones, he sings to defend a vast forest area of several hectares. The calls of these birds vary from one valley to another. Both sexes have loud call of alarm and sound like “tchip-tchip-tchip-tchip …” in case of danger or high excitement.

Food

Insects caught in flight, trees and shrubs, ground and in ferns, spiders.

Status and protection

The species is critically endangered. The high predation on eggs by black rats is the essential threat. In addition, two species of introduced birds ( Common Myna and Red-vented Bulbul) attack the young and adults during the breeding season and cause the failure of nesting. A direct predation on chicks and eggs by Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) was observed. Moreover, the gradual invasion of traditional habitat of the Monarch by the Miconia (Miconia calvescens) is a worrying threat.
This is one of the priority programs for the SOP as the ‘Ōmāma’o is one of the most threatened birds of French Polynesia. It is seen in more than three valleys of Tahiti and is subject since 1998 to a backup program through rodent control and close monitoring of all individuals living in accessible areas during the period of reproduction (July-March) for successful brood.

The fight against the introduced birds and the gradual inclusion of a population living beyond several waterfalls in Maruapo valley have significantly rejuvenate the population. It brought great hope for the survival of the species.

Over the last 20 years, more than 50 young individuals survived and helped increasing the population which reached around 79 adults at the beginning of 2018.

The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
It is classified as “Critically Endangered” (CR) on the IUCN Red List.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.