El Pájaro Silbador de · the whistling bird of · Rapa Nui
By Tannia Ramírez Medina – U. de Chile – ESMOI
As a result of its extreme isolation, the animal life of Rapa Nui has little diversity, unlike most of the other Polynesian islands. By natural processes of migration, some species of marine birds, marine mammals and the small insects, like the dragonfly of the species Pantala flavescens (locally called Pepeka) arrived.
According to scientific notes from 1928, the presence of the first diuca finch was registered on Rapa Nui, introduced as a decorative bird probably by missionaries from Valparaiso. Today it is found all over the Island and is the most abundant introduced species. How can you recognize it? It is a small gray bird with a white neck and breast. It eats seeds and during the morning it is the first to sing, which is why it is called the whistling bird, Manu Puhi in the Rapanui language. Sometimes you can find individuals with albinism, which is birds is called leucism; this means that it has partially or totally white plumage in the area of the head and neck, due to the absence of melanin, the pigment which gives color and protection to organs, skin, hair, feathers and the iris of the eye.
In the sand of Rapa Nui there are animals so small that they can hardly be seen with the bare eye. You need a microscope to see them. These animals live in the small spaces between sand grains.
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