In ancient times, Tahitians believed that several of their Gods and other celestial beings would show themselves to the human eye in form of an animal, a so-called ata and Teuira Henry [see also here] lists some of them, among them also three kinds of ducks.:
“Red-feathered duck (mo‘ora-‘ura), ata of ‘Orovehi‘ura (‘Oro in his manifestation of Red-feather-covered). Wild duck (mo‘ora-ōviri), ata of “sylvan elves.” Surf duck (toroa), ata of Hau, god of peace.” 
The ‘Wild duck’, mentioned here, is the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa J. F. Gmelin) which is the only duck species known from French Polynesia at all, so what are the other two ‘ducks’?
“The most showy headdress worn officially by the king and princes and high chiefs was the taumi, a superb helmet made of clusters of crimson feathers of the moora ‘ura (red-feathered duck), set upon a light framework and covering the head like a bird, with a glossy terminal behind of outspreading red, black, and white feathers tastily mixed together.” 
A taumi, however, actually is a gorget decorated with feathers, a feathered helmet was called fau.:
“Henry gives a description of a headdress which has some characteristics of a fau, but which seems to be a mixture of remembered types, further confused by the use of the name taumi, which we know was a gorget:” 
The fau was also decorated with several of the elongated tail feathers of tropicbirds (as you can see in the depiction, in which they are from the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus ssp. dorotheae Daudin)).
A little update here:
A “surf duck” apparently is nothing but an albatross (Diomedea spp.), a bird that is well known to the Polynesians, even in the tropical parts of the region. 
 Teuira Henry: Ancient Tahiti. Bishop Museum Bulletins 48: 1-651. 1928  Kenneth P. Emory: Tuamotuan bird names. The Journal of the Polynesian Society 56(2): 188-196. 1947  Douglas L. Oliver: Ancient Tahitian Society. The University Press of Hawai’i, Honolulu 1974  Karen Stevenson; Steven Hooper: Tahitian fau – unveiling an enigma. Journal of the Polynesian Society 116(2): 181-212. 2007
“Two species of Kingfishers were common on Bora-Bora (Halcyon veneratus and Todiramphus tutus), ….“
“HALCYON VENERATUS. (Ruru.) This species is fairly common, especially on the island of Bora-Bora.
TODIRAMPHUS TUTUS. Common throughout the Tahiti group.” 
These two rather cursory marginal notes from 1907 are an indication of the former existence of a bird species that no longer exists today and of which (almost) no trace can be found today.
The Society Islands are one of the very few places where two kingfisher species coexist, at least on the islands of Mo’orea and Tahiti in the eastern part of the archipelago; here you will find the widespread Chattering Kingfisher (Todiramphus tutus (Gmelin)), which occurs throughout the archipelago, as well as the Tahiti Kingfisher (Todiramphus veneratus (Gmelin)) and Moorea Kingfisher (Todiramphus youngi Sharpe), both restricted to a single island each.
However, the two references to the island of Bora Bora indicate that this was apparently also the case on other of the islands.
In fact, the mysterious kingfisher is not only known from small marginal notes but from at least two specimens that were collected at the beginning of the 19th century, one of which apparently still exists. This sole surviving specimen was examined in 2008 and compared to the Tahiti- and Moorea Kingfisher.
The authors concluded that this is an incompletely colored juvenile of the Tahitian species, but also note some differences, including a much shorter beak and some differences in plumage pattern, and conclude that it may also be an extinct subspecies. 
The species has also been depicted at least once (see below). 
Between Bora Bora in the northwestern part of the archipelago and Mo’orea and Tahiti in the eastern part are four other islands, namely Huahine, Mai’ao, Ra’iatea and Taha’a, each of which, at least today, is inhabited only by the Chattering Kingfisher.
If the island of Bora Bora was indeed once home to two species of kingfishers, then this bird must not have been a subspecies of the Tahitian Kingfisher, but a separate species; and, the other islands between Bora Bora and Mo’orea and Tahiti must most likely also have harbored now extinct and unknown distinct species.
In my humble opinion, however, the location of Bora Bora is simply an error, and the two birds collected there are more likely to be from the island of Tahiti. … but who knows ….
 M. L. I. Duperrey: Voyage autour du monde: Exécuté par Ordre du Roi, Sur la Corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824, et 1825, par M. L. I. Duperrey; Zoologie, par Mm. Lesson et Garnot. Paris: Arthus Bertrand 1828  S. B. Wilson: Notes on birds of Tahiti and the Society group. Ibis Ser. 9(1): 373-379. 1907  Claire Voisin; Jean-François Voisin: List of type specimens of birds in the collections of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, France). 18. Coraciiformes. Journal of the National Museum (Prague), Natural History Series 177(1): 1-25. 2008  Justin J. F. J. Jansen & Roland E. van der Vliet: The chequered history of the Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus on Tahiti: I: type specimens. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 135(2): 108-120. 2015  Justin J. F. J. Jansen & Roland E. van der Vliet: The chequered history of the Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus on Tahiti: II: review of status. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 135(2): 121-130. 2015  Michael Lee & David T. Holyoak: The chequered history of Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus tutus on Tahiti: a response. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 137(3): 211-217. 2017  Roland E. van der Vliet & Justin J. F. J. Jansen: Reply to Lee & Holyoak: how definite are 20th-cetury reports of Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus tutus from Tahiti? Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 137(3): 218-225. 2017
Miller’s Rail is one of the more commonly known so-called mysterious birds.
This species is actually known exclusively from a single drawing made by Georg Forster sometimes between 1772 and 75 during the second voyage of James Cook [and a copy of it made by John Frederick Miller, who described the bird as a new species in 1784]. The annotation just states that it is a Rallus minutus, [a small rail], [called] Maho, [and coming from] Taheitee, [Tahiti].
The drawing is rather a crude one, not „fieldguide-suitable“ and shows a small bird, clearly identifiable as a crake, with rather dark, almost black feathers, sitting on its red legs.
The bird could very well just be a Spotless Crake (Zapornia tabuensis (Gmelin)), which today is still [patchily these days] distributed all over Polynesia, and of course was even more so 250 years ago!
There is yet another quite detailed description supposed to be of this species, made by John Latham in 1785 from the actual type, that is now lost.:
LENGTH six inches. Bill three quarters of an inch, black: the head, neck, and all the under parts of the body, dark ash-colour: palest on the chin: the upper parts, and wing coverts, deep red brown: quills dusky, edged with white: edge of the wing, and the first quill feather, white: tail an inch and a half long, rounded in shape, and black: legs dusky yellow. Claws black. Inhabits Otaheite, and the Friendly Isles. Sir Joseph Banks.“ 
The same book contains the description of a variety of the Tabuan rail [now Spottless Crake (Zapornia tabuensis)] from the island of Tanna in the Solomon Islands chain which is often regarded to as being the description of the actual type specimen of Miller’s Rail, however, the description differs quite significantly from G. Forster’s depiction.:
“This varies in having the plumage more inclined to brown: the vent white, transversely barred with black lines: legs red. Inhabits the island of Tanna. Sir Joseph Banks.” 
The island of Tanna, mentioned here as place of origin of this bird, was just one of several islands that were visited by Cook and his entourage in the middle of the 18th century, and the place names given by J. Latham are very often completely wrong, however, the descriptions on the other hand are rather complete and trustworthy.
It has to be taken into account that such old books most often lack any kind of register and that they mostly just use common names but lack scientific ones, searching inside them is a long-term venture.
It is now quite well known that in former times probably all of the islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean were inhabited by endemic rails, with several islands being known to have been inhabited by more than one species, and in many cases these were congeneric species, meaning species from one and the same genus – something that today is extremely rare, which, however, is a relict situation, left behind by human-induced extinctions. 
In ancient Tahiti, the meho too was thought to represent a deity, namely Tu (in his manifestation of moonlit sky), the meho‘s cry is given as having been a “ho”, which is also thought to be the characteristic sound made by Tu himself. 
This little sentence is yet another prove for the former existence of another rail species on Tahiti beside the Red-billed Rail (Gallirallus pacificus (Gmelin)), which is also mentioned in this short enumeration of birds representincg gods in ancient Tahiti.
 John Latham: A General Synopsis of Birds 3(1): 235. Leigh & Sotheby, London 1785  John Latham: A General Synopsis of Birds 3(1): 236. Leigh & Sotheby, London 1785  Teuira Henry: Ancient Tahiti. Bishop Museum Bulletins 48: 1-651. 1928  Douglas L. Oliver: Ancient Tahitian Society. The University Press of Hawai’i, Honolulu 1974  David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006
A pigeon collected during one of J. Cook’s journeys in the middle of the 18th century on the island of Tahiti, Society Islands, was described and named Columba R. forsteri in 1829 by J. G. Wagler, this is the original description.:
“C. R. Forsteri. Habitus et magnitudo C. globicerae; capite et cervice prorsus nigris; dorso, uropygio, remigibus et rectricibus coeruleo et viridi nitentibus; gula, jugulo, pectore, abdomine femoribusque fuliginosis; crisso ferrugineo; capistro albo; cera prorsus non globosa.
Columba globicera var.? Reinh. Forster in Manuscr.
Rostrum nigrum; pedes rubri. Habitat in insula Otaheite, ab incolis Aroobu appeliate.” 
(my humble) translation:
“C. R. Forsteri. Shape and size of C. globicera; head and neck completely black; on the back, from the rump, and the rectrices shining blue and green; throat, neck, breast, belly (hips?) sooty; undertail coverts ferruginous; lores white; cere absolutely not globose.
Columba globicera var.? Reinh. Forster in Manuscr.
Beak black; feet red. Inhabits the island of Otaheite, named by the islanders Aroobu.“
According to S. L. Olson and D. W. Steadman this description fits very well with the Nuku Hiva Imperial Pigeon (Ducula galeata (Bonaparte)), which is now restricted to the island of Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, but which indeed is known to have been much more widespread in former times. 
However, this species is much larger than the Polynesian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aurora Peale) from Tahiti, named Columba globicera in the description, and not of the same size, and its head and neck are slate-colored and not black as the description says; anyway, neither the adult nor the juvenile Polynesian Imperial Pigeon have ferruginous undertail coverts while the Nuku Hiva Imperial Pigeon again has.
So, after all, this little description may indeed be the only historical record of the Nuku Hiva Imperial Pigeon outside the island of Nuku Hiva, it disappeared sometimes during the 18th century. Subfossils assigned to this large bird are now known from Mangaia, Cook Islands; Hiva Oa, Tahuata and Ua Huka, Marquesas; as well as from Huahine, Society Islands. 
However, I personally still have some doubts about the identity of these large imperial pigeon forms outside of the Marquesas, in my humble opinion they should rather be considered distinct forms.
 J. G. Wagler: Beiträge und Bemerkungen zu dem ersten Bande seines Sytsema Avium. (Fortsetzung III.) Isis von Oken 7: 735-762. 1829  S. L. Olson; D. W. Steadman: Comments on the proposed suppression of Rallus nigra Miller, 1784 and Columba R. Forsteri Wagler, 1829 (Aves) .Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 44, 126-127. 1987  David W. Steadman; Dominique S. Pahlavan: Extinction and biogeography of birds on Huahine, Society Islands, French Polynesia. Geoarchaeology 7(5): 449-483. 1992
While researching some accounts reffering to the Washington Island Gadwall (Mareca strepera ssp. couesi Streets), I stumbled accros a footnote that made me wonder … a bit at least.:
“The native birds of Tahiti are in a sad state; the Porphyrio is extinct, as is the small grey, Thrush-like Omaomao [Tahiti Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus caffer (Sparrman))], famous for its beautiful song, and the magnificent large Fruit Pigeon [Polynesian Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula aurorae (Peale))], of which a few existed as late as 1920.” 
Well, aside the fact that the name “Omaomao” is rather applied to the Garrett’s Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus musae ssp. garretti (Holyoak & Thibault)), the Tahiti Reed-Warbler is still alive.
What amazes me is that the author mentiones the term “Porphyrio” in a absolutely casual way, and this certain author, Charles Nordhoff, knew what a Porphyrio is, he kept six New Zealand Swamphens (Porphyrio melanotus (Temminck)) in the garden of his house while living on the island of Tahiti.
There is furthermore a painting by Paul Gaugin, made in 1897 during a stay on Tahiti, it is called “Vairumati” (see below) and shows a female islander sitting on a chair and to her left a strange-looking white bird that very much reminds on a swamphen.
I personally do not think that Gaugin painted a real bird here because the same bird appears in several of his paintings, always in the same pose, differing only in the coloration.
It nevertheless is almost certain that a swamphen species once inhabited the island of Tahiti, and that additional species inhabited all of the other Society islands, however, the only true evidence for that assumption are the subfossil remains of McNab’s Swamphen (Porphyrio mcnabi Kirchman & Steadman) found on the island of Huahine.
I only somehow doubt that this Tahiti Swamphen disappeared only around the 1940s … but, who knows.
 Charles Nordhoff: Notes on the birds of Tahiti. The Avicultural Magazine ser. 5. 8(5): 119-120. 1943
Dieser tahitianische Papagei ist einer meiner Lieblingsvögel, leider existiert er aber nicht mehr da er durch eingeschleppte Säugetiere (Hunde, Katzen, Ratten) ausgerottet wurde.
Hier möchte ich zwei Darstellungen zeigen, die ich noch nicht kannte; beide stammen aus dem Jahr 1792 und wurden von Mitgliedern der Besatzung der HMS Providence angefertigt, die mit der Mission nach Tahiti gekommen war, Brotfruchtbäume und anderes botanisches Material vom Pazifik zu den Westindischen Inseln zu transportieren.
… some thoughts about my favorite parrot genus – Cyanoramphus, I think about them very often …. 😉
„28.* Cyanoramphus erythronotus. … Society Is.: Tahiti and Raiatea (Forster)“ 
„30.* Cyanoramphus ulietanus. … ?Ulietea or Raiatea, Society Islands (Lath.). – ?Tanna, New Hebrides (Bullock Coll. Brit. Mus.). If the Parrot, P. ulieteanns Gm., really came from Ulietea as stated by Latham, it may prove to be the young of P. pacificus Forst. = erythronotus Kuhl.“ 
Number 28., the Black-fronted- or Tahiti-Parakeet is now named as Cyanoramphus zealandicus (Latham), what if the two species, the black-fronted and the Society Islands Parakeet, where indeed only one species?
The Black-fronted Parakeet appears to be very much like the remainder of the Cyanoramphus species, more or less completely green, with bluish wing feathers, and some red feathers behind the eye, but the other species, the Society Islands Parakeet, has a completely different coloration, being brownish olive-colored with a completely blackish head, it is completely unlike any of ist congeners.
The dull form may indeed have been the juvenile of the green one, yet all other species in the genus lack a special juvenile plumage, the young birds look exactly like the adult ones, and the only two known specimens of the Society Islands Parakeet appear to be adult birds – so no, this theory is invalid.
The origin of the two species is another question, it is not that much for certain, that in historical times one was found only on the island of Tahiti and the other one only on Ra’iatea, let alone the prehistorical times …! The only thing absolutely for sure is that the Black-fronted Parakeet indeed inhabited Tahiti.
Can you still follow me?
The genus is very rich in species in New Zealand and occurs there almost everywhere with at least two sympatrical species, and even as much as three on the large South Island (Yellow-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), Orange-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi), Red-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezealandiae)).
So why should the island of Tahiti not have harbored two species as well? And why should these two species not have occurred on other islands within the Society archipelago as well? We will probably never know that for sure.
There are still so many mysteries surrounding this genus, one is the very disjunct distribution, with giant gaps of which one was only recently filled with the discovery of subfossil remains on the island of Rapa, Austral archipelago.
But this is another story for another day. 🙂
 Lionel K. Wiglesworth: Aves polynesiae: a catalogue of the birds of the Polynesian subregion (not including the Sandwich Islands). Berlin: R. Friedlaender & Sohn 1891 In: Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königl. Zoologischen und Anthropologisch-Etnographischen Museums zu Dresden Bd. 3: 1-84. 1890/91. herausgegeben von Hofrath Dr. A. B. Meyer, Director des Museums
There exists an almost unknown contemporaneous account from the 18th century, made by James Morrison, boatswain’s mate aboard the famous or infamous ‚Bounty‘, who made mention of a mysterious bird [… and how I love mysterious birds …!].:
“… the mountains produce birds of different kinds unknown to us, among which are a large bird nearly the size of a goose, which is good food; they are never observed near the sea nor in the low lands.” 
So, usually called the Tahiti Goose, Tahitian Goose, or Tahitian Mountain Goose – what are we talking about here actually?
We very probably do not talk about a goose, but why?
First we have to take into account who made the report:
A boatswain’s mate from the 18th century very likely was not a zoologist, but may in fact have known at least several European birds, especially poultry, so very likely knew chickens, doves, ducks, and geese, and very likely also quails, partridges and other so called game birds.
As a seafarer he perhaps may have had some good knowledge about seabirds, and probably could very well tell several species of them apart from each other.
These are the birds that we can just sort out, but what may it have been then?
Well, the Tahitian Mountain ‚Goose‘ apparently was a somewhat large, terrestrial bird, more or less the size of a feral goose, it was ‚good food‘ so it must have been easy to catch, it probably [actually very likely to almost certainly] was flightless, and it was unlike any bird known to ‚us‘, to the sailors of the ‚Bounty‘.
In my opinion, and in that of many others, the Tahitian Mountain ‚Goose‘ almost certainly was a kind of rail, a large, flightless rail, maybe a species from the widespread genus Porphyrio, somewhat like a Tahitian version of the New Zealand Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli (Owen)).
However, there is of course the chance that the Tahitian Mountain ‚Goose‘ was something completey different, we probably will never know for sure.
… mysterious ….
 J. M. Derscheid: An unknown species – the Tahitian Goose. Ibis 81: 756-760. 1939
Ich hatte hier bereits über eine hypothetische Papageienart geschrieben, die einst auf der Insel Bora Bora im Gesellschaftsarchipel vorgekommen sein mag.
Ich möchte nun über ein paar sehr interessante Überlieferungen schreiben, die von Teuira Henry (1847-1915), einer tahitianischen Pädagogin, Ethnologin, Folkloristin, Historikerin, Linguistin und Gelehrten, in einem Manuskript hinterlassen wurden, das sie zu Lebzeiten aus den Stücken eines verlorenen Manuskripts rekonstruierte, das in den Jahren zwischen 1817 und 1856 ursprünglich von ihrem Großvater verfasst wurde. Es enthielt bedeutende Beiträge an mündlicher Folklore, Genealogie, Geschichte, Mythen und traditionellem Wissen wie Astronomie und Navigation. Ihr Manuskript wurde 1928 posthum vom Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum als “Ancient Tahiti” veröffentlicht. 
Im Jahr 2006 schrieb Philippe Raust einen kleinen Artikel  über neu entdeckte und beschriebene Papageienarten, deren subfossile Überreste in Französisch Polynesien gefunden worden waren, er erwähnte hierbei auch die alten tahitianischen Namen einiger dieser Papageien, von denen einige jedoch immer noch keiner bekannten Art zugeordnet werden können.:
“… Peut être étaient-ce le vini-pa-tea perroquet de couleur pourpre à gorge blanche commun à toutes les îles de la Société et le vini-pa-uri de Pora Pora entièrement rouge décrit par T. Henry dans Tahiti au temps anciens? Il est connu que les plumes rouges étaient recherchées dans les sociétés polynésiennes préeuropéennes où elle symbolisaient le pouvoir des chefs; c’est peut être à cause de cela que ces espèces, trop chassées, ont disparu. T. Henry cite aussi le vini- rehu (perroquet sifleur gris), le tētē (perroquet noir de la Société), le ‘ura (perroquet rouge des montagnes) et le ‘a’a taevao (‘a’a sauvage des îles-sous-le-vent), le tavae (au plumage brillant et multicolore de Motu Iti, Tupai et Maupiha’a): cela fait au moins six espèces de perroquets, perruches et loris qui sont rapportés par la tradition.”
“… Vielleicht waren es der vini-pa-tea Papagei von purpurner Farbe mit weißem Hals, der allen Inseln der Gesellschaft gemein war, und der völlig rote vini-pa-uri von Pora Pora [Bora Bora], die von T. Henry in ‘Ancient Tahiti’ beschrieben wurden? Es ist bekannt, dass rote Federn in voreuropäischen polynesischen Gesellschaften begehrt waren, da sie die Macht der Häuptlinge symbolisierten; dies könnte der Grund sein, warum diese überjagten Arten verschwunden sind. T. Henry benennt auch den vini-rehu (grauer pfeifender Papagei), den tētē (schwarzer Papagei der Gesellschaftsinseln), den ‘ura (roter Bergpapagei) und den ‘a’a taevao (wilder ‘a’a der Inseln unter dem Winde), der tavae (mit strahlendem und buntem Gefieder von Motu Iti, Tupai und Maupiha’a): dies macht mindestens sechs [sieben!] Arten von Papageien, Sittichen und Loris, über die Überlieferungen existieren.“
Nun haben wir hier also offenbar sieben Papageienarten, aber welche davon ist welche?
‘a’a taevao – Raiatea-Sittich (Cyanoramphus ulietanus (Gmelin)) tavae – Rubinlori (Vini kuhlii (Vigors) ssp. ‘Bora Bora’) ? tētē – Schwarzstirnsittich (Cyanoramphus zealandicus (Latham)) ‘ura – ein mehr oder weniger komplett rot gefärbter Papagei, der offenbar nach seiner Farbe benannt wurde vini-pa-tea – Saphirlori (Vini peruviana (Statius Müller)) vini-pa-uri – Rubinlori (Vini kuhlii (Vigors) ssp. ‘Bora Bora’) ? vini-rehu – ein grauer Papagei [?] der pfeifende Geräusche macht, wie dem auch sei, rehu bedeutet jedenfalls nur grau; eventuell ein juveniler Saphirlori?
Die Gesellschaftsinseln waren die Heimat von mindestens fünf wissenschaftlich beschriebenen Papageienarten, die entweder anhand alter Überlieferungen bekannt sind oder anhand von subfossilen Überresten, außerdem gab es eine weitere Art, die heute auf eine einzige Population auf nur einer Insel im Australarchipel reduziert ist, früher aber viel weiter verbreitet war.
Nur ganze zwei davon existieren auch heute noch und nur eine davon bewohnt zumindest noch winzige Reste ihrer einstigen Heimat – der unfassbar schöne Saphir- oder Tahiti-Lori (Vini peruviana).
 Teuira Henry: Ancient Tahiti. Bishop Museum Bulletins 48: 1-651. 1928  Philippe Raust: Les Psittacidés disparus de Polynésie Francaise. Te Manu: Bulletin de la Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie 56. Septembre 2006