11001-88901 Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) head and long curved beak of female. Now extinct. Once widespread in the old growth forests of the North Island, prior to the arrival of Polynesian voyagers, the huia was later revered as a symbol of nobility, leadership and hierarchy by Maori. Unfortunately this status as a symbol of esteem, was later also adopted by European settlers, when dried heads and beaks were fashioned into gold-capped pendants and the huia's signature tail feathers were worn to beautify Victorian dress. Further damage was caused by Victorian naturalists rushing to add large numbers of the remarkable birds to museums and overseas private collections. The last confirmed sighting of huia was made on 28 December 1907; however credible reports of birds lingered as late as the 1920s. Female birds had long, thin, curved bills (as shown), suited to probing and extracting grubs and invertebrates from tunnels in rotten wood. Males had short robust bills suited more to ripping and digging open the rotten wood.
Huia remain the world's greatest example of extreme dimorphism in bill morphology in birds, an adaptation that likely allowed them to exploit a greater range of foraging habitats and to minimise competition between the sexes *