Justification of Red List Category
This species formerly occurred on three islands, but survives on only one tiny island where its very small population is apparently stable, but still at risk from habitat degradation by sheep and predation by cats. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.
The population was estimated at 80-125 pairs in 2000, with 4-5 pairs/10 ha in Pisonia forest (Thibault and Meyer 2001) i.e. 160-250 mature individuals.
The population appeared healthy in 2006 (P. Raust in litt. 2007) and is suspected to be stable.
Pomarea mendozae was formerly widespread in the central Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, occurring as two subspecies on three islands. On Hiva Oa, the now-extinct nominate mendozae was common in 1921 and 1922, and was last seen in March 1975, when only one individual was seen despite several weekly field searches. It was not seen in 1990, 1996 or in 2000 (Thibault and Meyer 2001), and two recent records of single birds (Anon. 1999) are considered erroneous. The subspecies also occurred on Tahuata. It was apparently common in 1922 but it was not found in 1975 or 1990 (Thibault and Meyer 2001). The species survives only on Mohotani, where the population of subspecies motanensis was estimated at 200-350 pairs in 1975 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984) and, although only 80-125 pairs in 2000, it was considered stable at 4-5 pairs/10 ha in Pisonia forest (the apparent difference being due to discrepancies in estimates of island size and forest-cover) (Thibault and Meyer 2001). In 2006, the island was revisited and the population appeared to be healthy (P. Raust in litt. 2007). In 2007, 50 individuals were observed during a survey of the island, roughly corresponding with earlier estimates by Thibault and Meyer (2001) and indicating that the population is stable (A. Gouni and Y. Allanic via P. Raust in litt. 2012).
This mainly insectivorous species occurred in forested valleys at high elevations and in degraded forest at all altitudes (probably originally preferring lowland forests which are now destroyed). On Mohotani, it is found in dry forest with Pisonia grandis (Holyoak and Thibault 1984). Adults apparently prefer areas of dense, luxuriant vegetation while immatures often frequent shrubby vegetation in dry areas (Holyoak and Thibault 1984).
On Mohotani, feral cats Felis catus are a threat and, to a lesser extent, Polynesian rat Rattus exulans, as well as intense grazing by feral sheep (Seitre and Seitre 1991, 1992). All the Marquesas Islands have been devastated by intense grazing and fire, and much of the original dry forest has been reduced to grassland, and upland forest to relict forest patches. On all islands, introduced species have been a threat, especially black rat Rattus rattus and (which is not present on Mohotani), on Hiva Oa, introduced birds such as the predatory Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus and the very competitive Common Myna Acridotheres tristis.
Conservation Actions Underway
Mohotani has been protected since 1968. However, the banning of hunting has resulted in serious degradation by an increasing population of feral sheep (SPREP 1999). Preparation of a management plan, involving people from nearby islands (sheep hunters and wood carvers) has begun (P. Raust in litt. 2007).
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., Khwaja, N.
Allanic, Y., Gouni, A., Raust, P.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Pomarea mendozae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/10/2021.