Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)


Mao (Gymnomyza samoensis)


French: Méliphage mao German: Maohonigfresser Spanish: Mielero mao

Merops samoensis

Hombron and Jacquinot

, 1841,

Upolu, Samoa


Sometimes placed in Foulehaio. Few specimens from American Samoa (Tutuila; now extinct) on average slightly larger and somewhat darker, especially on head, than other populations, but differences trivial. Monotypic.


Savaii and Upolu, in Samoa.

Descriptive notes

28–31 cm. Large dark honeyeater with long, gently decurved bill. Appears wholly dark at distance: head, neck and breast sooty black to olive-black, conspicuous olive... read more


Considered noisy. Call described as a loud cat-like wailing “mee-aa-oo” or a series of... read more


Native forest and forest edges, and cultivated land with remnants of rainforest, e.g. in steep... read more

Food and feeding

Nectar, arthropods (mainly insects) and small fruit. Forages usually in crowns of trees, or in subcanopy; seen foraging in coral trees (... read more


Both sexes, but more intensely males, exhibit territorial defence through song, chasing and occasional physical contact; only females... read more


Sedentary, with some local movements.  

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Restrictedrange species: present in Samoan Islands EBA. Rare. Total population small (estimate of 1000–2500 individuals), fragmented and apparently... read more

Recommended citation

Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Mao (Gymnomyza samoensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 December 2019).