Gå’ga’ Karisu: Guam subspecies is extinct

Scientific Name: Acrocephalus lusciniua lusciniua (Family SLYVIIDAE)

Common Name: Nightingale Red-Warbler

CHamoru Name: Gå’ga’ Karisu

Habitat and Natural History: The Gå’ga’ Karisu’s name means dweller among the reeds. It lives in tangantangan thickets, limestone forest edges, marshes and freshwater wetlands, especially in tall reeds. Lizards, insects, snails and spiders are its food items.

Description: Colored to blend in with its surroundings the yellowish bird is darker above with shaggy head feathers and a yellow eyebrow. The very long billed bird is more often heard than seen. It is about seven inches or 13 centimeters long, with the males larger than the females.

Range: The Nightingale Reed-warbler is endemic to the Mariana Island chain. Three subspecies separately occupy the islands of Guam, Saipan and Alamagan; Agiguan; and Pagan in the Northern Marianas.

Current Status: The Guam subspecies is extinct as it was last seen in 1981. There are reduced numbers on Saipan and the number on Alamagan is unknown. It may be extinct on Agiguan and Pagan. It is considered endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Government of Guam and the Government of the Northern Marianas.

Threats: The major threats are habitat loss and volcanism.

By Gretchen R. Grimm, MS