Cook Islands

During a survey of the birds of the Cook Islands from July-September 1973, the birds of the islands of Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia were investigated for the first time. Series of seven land birds that apparently represent undescribed forms were collected. This paper gives descriptions of these forms, in advance of a fuller report on their biology and that of the other birds seen.

During a visit to the Cook Islands, my wife and I spent 5 days (30 August to 3 September 1980) on Aitutaki, where we made a concerted effort to determine the composition and status of the birdlife.

Common mynas have been introduced (often as biocontrol for insects) or colonised many islands in the Pacific. They are one cause of decline in some native bird species such as endemic kingfishers, and are a pest when they damage fruit and compete for food to put out for domestic animals.

The Pacific islands of Oceania cover almost 15% of the world’s surface and are characterised by a high degree of ecosystem and species diversity. The region is characterised by thousands of isolated small coral atolls and higher volcanic islands, which has led to the high diversity of species found today. In fact, the number of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth (endemic species) is extremely high - often up to 90% for particular groups. Often, these rare and endemic species are adapted to specialised habitats and limited to small areas of a few islands.

The Government of the Cook Islands requested assistance from the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, to conduct a survey of invasive