Chatham Island raven

Corvus moriorum Forbes, 1892

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Corvidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

Geographical variation: Nil

 
 
 
Chatham Island raven. Chatham Islands raven (Corvus moriorum). Image 2006-0010-1/15 from the series 'Extinct birds of New Zealand'. Masterton. Image © Purchased 2006. © Te Papa by Paul Martinson See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=711028&term=island+raven

Chatham Island raven. Chatham Islands raven (Corvus moriorum). Image 2006-0010-1/15 from the series 'Extinct birds of New Zealand'. Masterton. Image © Purchased 2006. © Te Papa by Paul Martinson See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=711028&term=island+raven

The Chatham Island raven was the larger of two extinct endemic raven species, the other being the New Zealand raven. Weighing up to one kilogram, they were one of the largest songbird species, exceeded only by the common raven of the northern hemisphere, the thick-billed raven of Africa, and the superb lyrebird of Australia.

Most ravens and crows have similar body shape, plumage and behaviour, and so the Chatham Island raven was probably glossy black, omnivorous and aggressive. It was common around the Chatham Island coast, and its remains are also known from a few sites on Pitt Island. It had relatively long, slender legs, and retained strong powers of flight. It probably attended seal, sea lion and seabird colonies, where they would have had access to unprotected pups, spilt regurgitations, eggs, chicks and carrion. The diet is also likely to have included fish, shellfish, skinks, insects and other invertebrates, and fruits.

The Chatham Island raven became extinct after Moriori settled on the Chatham Islands, and before European contact. The presence of raven bone remains in midden sites shows that they were eaten by humans. However, it is equally likely that extinction of the Chatham Island raven was part of a trophic cascade of effects caused by humans on the Chatham Islands, as the once enormous colonies of seals and seabirds they relied on were destroyed by over-hunting.

Weblinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatham_Raven

References

Gill, B.; Martinson, P. 1991. New Zealand's extinct birds. Random Century,New Zealand.

Gill, B. 2003. Osteometry and systematics of the extinct New Zealand ravens. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 1: 43-58.

Tennyson, A.; Martinson, P. 2006. Extinct birds of New Zealand. Te Papa Press, Wellington.

Tennyson, A.J.D. 2010. Passeriformes. Pp. 275-322. In: Checklist Committee (OSNZ) 2010. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica (4th ed.). Ornithological Society of New Zealand & Te Papa Press,Wellington.

Worthy, T.H.; Holdaway, R.N. 2002. The lost world of the moa: prehistoric life in New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.

Recommended citation

Szabo, M.J. 2013. Chatham Island raven. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Chatham Island raven

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