Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Akohekohe

Palmeria dolei
The Akohekohe is an extremely rare, critically endangered bird found only on the island of Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands. They were once found on Molokai as well, but have been extinct there since the early 20th century.

Also known as the Crested Honeycreeper, the Akohekohe is found only in a small, 50 square kilometer area near the Haleakala Volcano. They are large for a Honeycreeper, and are very distinctive in their plumage. The bodies are predominantly black with silver flecks. Orange feathers sprout out from the nape of the neck, and they have large white crests that come out from the bill.

The Hawaiian name probably derives from one of calls that the birds make-- "Ah-kohay-kohay". They also make a variety of other noises, including "wolf whistles." The Akohekohe feeds primarily on the nectar of Ohia-Lehua blossoms, though they will take other plants and insects as well.

A number of things have contributed to this birds' population decline. Introduced plants and animals have been a factor. Pigs especially have been dangerous, as they destroy the undergrowth and damage the plants the that Akohekohe feeds on. Rats and mosquitos have also caused many problems, including the introduction of diseases. Deforestation has played a part as well. The birds and their habitat have been protected since 1967, but it is estimated that only 3,700 remain.

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Hawaii
Size : Length up to 7in (18cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Fringillidae -- Genus : Palmeria -- Species : P. dolei

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