Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in February - 'Akohekohe

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 2nd week in February:
  'Ākohekohe, the crested honey-creeper, displays its brightest plumage this month, probably as part of its breeding cycle. The ‘ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei), is the largest extant (still existing) honeycreeper on Maui Nui (Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, Maui, and Kaho‘olawe). Although primarily black, the plumage of the ‘ākohekohe is striking. Depending on their location, feathers are tipped with orange-yellow, gray, silver, or white. Orange feathers surround the eyes and extend over the nape, orange or yellow-white feathers cover the thighs, and the epaulettes are white with orange tips. Finally, the ‘ākohekohe has a distinctive plume of white feathers that curl forward over the bill.

Like 'apapane and other Hawaiian honeycreepers, 'ākohekohe live in the high, native forest and feed on 'ōhia lehua nectar. ‘Ākohekohe may spend up to 70 percent of the day foraging. But while 'apapane still thrive in this habitat, 'ākohekohe have become an endangered species, and are restricted to a 58 square kilometer (22 square mile) area on the northeastern slope of Haleakalā, which makes up less than 5% of their historic range.

This species of bird does not sing, but produces a random series of buzzes, croaks, and whistles.

To learn more about this endemic endangered bird, visit the
'ākohekohe fact sheet on the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) webpage.

Image and selected text from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Some information taken from the CWCS.

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