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ABC's Bird of the Week - 'I'iwi


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Bird of the Week

I'iwi by Jack Jeffery

The red and black 'I'iwi was once one of the most common endemic forest birds in Hawai'i, but this spectacular honeycreeper has disappeared from most of its former range. Their long, decurved (downward-curving) bills are specialized for sipping nectar from tubular flowers; they also feed on moths, spiders, and other insects.

As is the case with other Hawaiian forest birds, 'I'iwis have declined because of habitat loss, avian disease, and the introduction of alien plants and animals. The 'I'iwi is extremely susceptible to avian malaria and avian pox, both transmitted by non-native mosquitoes. The 'I'iwi follows the flowering of nectar-producing plants, and so is often attracted into low elevation areas where mosquitoes are more prevalent. Research has shown that 90% of ʻIʻiwis bitten by a single malaria-infected mosquito will perish from the disease.

The 'I'iwi has benefited from efforts to restore native forest and control the spread of alien plant and animal species.

ABC is working with the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and other partners on forest restoration projects on Mauna Kea on the Big Island, and on leeward east Maui that will ultimately improve habitat conditions for 'I'iwi and other threatened forest birds such as Palila and Maui Parrotbill.

Read more about ABC’s efforts to save the ‘Iʻiwi and other native
Hawaiian birds!

Photo: 'I'iwi by Jack Jeffery; Range Map by ABC



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