The Last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō – A Final Song


This is no doubt the most depressing piece I have ever written, and although my fingers press against the keys in an array of existential dread and carnivorous guilt, I feel as though the expression of thought through word is only fitting. Not as an undeserved relief to myself, but as tribute to what was the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō.

I was only made aware of the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō this past week, but the story behind this bird has already rattled my conscious perception of life, while at the same time reiterating my antinatalist views in regards to humans.

The Last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō

In the haunting audio clip above, you can hear the final calls of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō, calling out for a female that didn’t exist. The hollow and somewhat ominous calls you hear is that of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō bird, a single male, calling in vain for something that no longer existed on earth. This call was the last recorded evidence of the existence of the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō back in 1987, and despite extensive research to locate a surviving bird — there has been no evidence to support the notion that the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō bird still exists since that same year. Instead, we are left with what is no doubt the saddest call to be recorded in avian documentation.

One cannot but help empathize with the bird, as he calls out for company in a world where he is all but completely alone. Trying his best to find another like him, a mate to share a nest, someone to return his calls — a potential to breed, so unlike those before him would not disappear without a trace. Seeking for another of his species, so that he too may not be forgotten as those before him have been.

The last Kauaioo known to exist prior to his death.

The small honey-eating species were native to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi. The birds were about 20 centimeters in length and somewhat similar to our Cape Sugarbird in appearance. It is believed that their species started to decline mostly due to human introductions, loss of habitat and disease carrying mosquitoes. Two hurricanes which affected the island caused further problems for the birds, as they began seeking areas to nest at higher altitude, where they did not have good success.

Each recorded note of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō should serve as a wake up call to us as humans, as to how our behaviour and in many cases self-involved nature affects the life around us. We should not relate the bird’s final calls for a partner as a prompt for our own self-realizations on our own existentialism, but rather focus on that which has suffered irreparably at our hands. That which we continue to destroy for the sake of comforting our own fears of being left irrelevant in the world.

The story of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō saw reference in mainstream culture a few years ago, with the artist J. Ralph releasing the track titled Manta Ray, which is a depressive lyrical composition, with the writer taking the position of the last male bird.

In the trees
Between the leaves
All the growing
That we did

All the loving
And separating
All the turning
To face each other

I divide
In the sky
In the the seams
Between the beams

All the loving
And separating
All the turning
To face each other

Without biodiversity
I’m nothing
It’s like I never

Without my home
With no reflection
I cease to exist

And my children
Are dying now
Inside me

All I love
All I know
All I’ve known

I am dying now
Inside me
My children

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