Following up my account of Eastham Guild’s introduction of birds to Tahiti, I now have much more information plus an inconsistency.
And that’s where the anomaly appears. According to the excellent website of the Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (MANU) there are at present 11 introduced species surviving in the [Royal] Society Islands of which Tahiti is one. The Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) introduced in 1885 in an attempt to control rats appears to have had a devastating effect on the endemic fauna. The Jungle Fowl and Rock Pigeons are feral populations. The Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) was introduced to combat insects in 1910 and is mentioned in the Guild book. Two species were introduced after the Guilds, the Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) in the 1950s and the Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) around 1970. Two introduced species are certainly the result of the Guild releases: Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) and Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus). However the MANU website lists the following three species as being introduced before the Guilds arrived: Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild); Red-browed Firetail (Emblema temporalis) and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax), the first at the beginning of the 20th century, the others at the end of the 19th century. Nevertheless, all three species were released by the Guilds and included in the list of birds which had nested and reared young in the wild. The Guilds in their book and articles make no mention of these species occurring in Tahiti before their releases. That is the anomaly. Did the Guilds add to already-present introduced populations of three species, or are the records of earlier introductions wrong? The view that only two of the species introduced by the Guilds survived has been copied into the scientific literature. I suspect that view is wrong.
After the War
|Eastham Guild - Passport Application 1920|
|Caroline Heywood - Passport Application 1920|
References and Links
Guild, Caroline. 1948. Rainbow in Tahiti. Doubleday
Guild, Caroline. 1951. Rainbow in Tahiti. London: Hammond, Hammond
Information on M/S Thor I:
First Breeding Register (Avicultural Society):
Eastham Guild Jnr:
Green Point Reserve, West Bath Maine: