Tag Archives: Prosobonia sp.

Say Hello! to the Henderson Island Sandpiper

Henderson Island Sandpiper  (Prosobonia sauli De Pietri et al.)

The so far rather modest year 2020 only got a little more colorful again shortly before its end … the orange-colored horror is about to pack his things and disappear … and now there is also good news for me personally because it concerns one of mine favorite species of bird: the Henderson Island Sandpiper has now officially been given a scientific name, even if not the most beautiful … [2]  

The species, previously only known under the name Prosobonia sp. ‘Henderson Island’, was first mentioned in 1994, and its remains must have been found some time before. [1]  

Now, ‘only’ 26 years later, the species was finally described and named.   🙂



[1] Graham M. Wragg; Marshall I. Weisler: Extinctions and new records of birds from Henderson Island. Notornis 41: 61-70. 1994
[2] Vanesa L. De Pietri; Trevor H. Worthy; R. Paul Scofield; Theresa L. Cole; Jamie R. Wood; Kieren J. Mitchell; Alice Cibois; Justin J. F. J. Jansen; Alan J. Cooper; Shaohong Feng; Wanjun Chen; Alan J. D. Tennyson; Graham M. Wragg: A new extinct species of Polynesian sandpiper (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Prosobonia) from Henderson Island, Pitcairn Island Group, and the phylogenetic relationships of Prosobonia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 20: 1-26. 2020


edited: 08.11.2020

Henderson Island Sandpiper

Fantastic things to come soon …:

V. L. De Pietri; T. H. Worthy; R. P. Scofield; T. L. Cole; J. R. Wood; A. Cibois, J. J. F. J. Jansen; G. Zhang; K. J. Mitchell; S. Feng; W. Chen; A. J. D. Tennyson; G. M. Wragg: A new species of Polynesian sandpiper (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Prosobonia) from Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group, and the scolopacid affinities of Prosobonia. 

submited to the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. [1]



[1] Justin J. F. J. Jansen; Alice Cibois: Clrifying the morphology of the enigmatic Kiritimati Sandpiper Prosobonia cancellata (J. F. Gmelin, 1785), based on a review of the contemporary data. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 140(2): 142-146. 2020


edited: 28.07.2020

A sandpiper from the Manua’e Atoll, Society Islands?

The quail spoken of by an early writer as occurring on Christmas [Kiritimati] and possibly other islands was probably the native sandpiper, as it resembles a quail when running on the ground and a merchant here told me the other day of quail on Scilly Islands [Manua’e] which he is putting into coconuts.” [1]


This rather incidental and somewhat strange side note is the only reference to the past existence of a species of sandpiper (Prosobonia sp.) on the ‘Leeward Islands’ in the Society Islands group, a species of the same genus known to have inhabited the islands in the past islands of Mo’orea and Tahiti in the southeast of the same archipelago. 

The only island in this group on which a fossil site has been discovered so far is Huahine, from where there are, at least so far, no finds of this genus. 

The form from the Manua’e Atoll, if it really existed – and I think it might well have existed – might have been identical to that known from subfossil remains found on the island of Mangaia in the Cook Archipelago [2], or it may have been a distinct form; but it was certainly not identical with the birds of the islands of Mo’orea and Tahiti, and it was certainly not identical with the Tuamotu Sandpiper (Prosobonia parvirostris (Peale)), since the Manua’e Atoll is much closer to the Cook Archipelago than to the Tuamotu Archipelago. 

Interestingly, the report cited above appears to date from the early 20th century, indicating that various Polynesian bird forms might have survived much longer than is often assumed. 


Manua’e Atoll, leeward Society Islands

Photo: NASA
(public domain)



[1] Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. Extracts from the journal of Rollo H. Beck. Vol. 1, Sept 1920 – June 1923
[2] D. W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006


edited: 05.07.2023