However, the bird's oddities argue against its inclusion within the Hawaiian honeycreeper family, he says.
has already conducted such a study of another Hawaiian honeycreeper of questionable status, this one known as the Maui creeper (Paroreomyza).
He notes that Paroreomyza will dive through the air for insects, a foraging strategy not observed in any other Hawaiian honeycreeper.
Either way, ornithologists may know soon whether the Poo-uli is a real Hawaiian honeycreeper or a black-masked impostor.
Pratt's olfactory evidence and other controversial research suggest that the Poo-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) may not belong to the clan of Hawaiian honeycreepers at all.
Virtually all Hawaiian honeycreepers give off a peculiar scent.
Most Hawaiian honeycreepers have songs that are loud, canary-like trills;' Pratt says.
While Hawaiian honeycreepers generally boast feathers in exotic colors, the Poo-uli is a study in muted tones of brown, gray, and white.
My feeling on the Poo-uli is that they are not allied with the Hawaiian honeycreepers," he says, adding, "I don't know what they are:'
The researchers looked at the evolution of the Hawaiian honeycreepers
after the formation of Kauai-Niihau, Oahu, Maui-Nui and Hawaii and found that each island that forms represents a blank slate for evolution, so as one honeycreeper species moves from one island to a new island, those birds encounter new habitat and ecological niches that may force them to adapt and branch off into distinct species.