Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Week in Nature - The 2nd Week in March - Palila

What's Happening in Hawaii
During the 2nd Week in March:

The palila (Loxioides bailleui), now beginning its breeding season, is another of the Hawaiian honeycreepers but differs conspicuously from the 'apapane and the 'ākohekohe. Male and female palila are similar, having a yellow head and breast, greenish wings and tail, a gray back, and white underparts. Males have a black mask, and females have less yellow on the back of their heads and a gray mask.

Apart from color, the most visible difference between palila and the other honecreepers is in beak shape, with the palila adapted for eating seeds and insects rather than for drinking nectar.

Palila feed primarily on pods of the māmane tree, holding them down with one or both feet while opening them and digging out seeds. Approximately 90 percent of the palila’s diet consists of immature māmane seeds; the remainder consists of māmane flowers, buds, leaves, and naio (Myoporum sandwicense) berries.

Dependent on māmane as their main food source, palila today are confined to the mixed māmane-naio forest of upper Mauna Kea and are endangered by mouflon sheep's destruction of this habitat. The forest has been reduced to a tenth of its former size, and its future remains uncertain.

The Palila is a sociable bird, and has a sweet voice and varied repertoire, including one song similar to the canary's.

To learn more about Palila, visit the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) Palila Fact Sheet here.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment