Christopher Taylor Bird Nature Wildlife Mammal Photography
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Maui Parrotbill Picture

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The Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) is a species of finch in the Fringillidae family. It is found only in Hawaii on the Island of Maui. The Maui parrotbill is a five-inch long, olive-green topped bird with a yellow belly. Its legs are also an olive color. The bill is parrot-like and is black, with a longer top bill and a smaller lower bill. It has a distinct black eye stripe starting from the bill, around the eyes and tapering off at the back of the head. The strong beak allows the bird to crush branches of trees to reveal invertebrates hidden within. The bill's thickness is not its only factor for breaking branches, it also has surprisingly large muscles connected to its bill, which makes it even tougher.

Female and the immature parrotbills are duller and have a smaller bill to body proportion. Its call is a short "chip"?, which is similar to the Maui alauahio, it is spoken every three to five seconds. It song is consisted of "cheer"? notes that are slower and richer than the akepa. It also has a sort song made up of the words "cheer-wee"?. It is endemic to the island of Maui, where it lives in restricted to high elevation Ohia Forest in East Maui. However according to the fossil evidence, it has been found in South Maui and in other parts of the land surrounding Haleakala. It has also been found as fossils on Molokai, where it was never sighted by the Europeans.

The best places to go and see this species is the Waikomoi Preserve, the Hanawi Natural Area Reserve, and the Haleakala National Park, where it has been seen in rare occurrences. It has been seen a few times at Hosmer's Grove but these sightings are quite far apart. Historically this bird has been quite rare. Today it is still rare; approximately 500 birds exist.

The Maui parrotbill's natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montanes. It is threatened by habitat loss. Much of the land in the parrotbill's historic range was changed for agricultural purposes, timber production and animal grazing. Introduced pests, such as mosquitoes, rats, and feral ungulates directly and indirectly affect the parrotbill's survival. Mosquitoes spread avian malaria, which the parrotbill is susceptible to, rats prey upon the birds' eggs and young, and feral pigs uproot the low-lying vegetation that the parrotbill forages in. Pigs additionally create wallows, which serve as breeding grounds for avian malaria-infected mosquitoes.

The Maui parrotbill was listed as an endangered species in 1967 under the Federal Endangered Species Act. It is also part of the Maui-Molokai Bird Recovery Plan in 1984, which brought upon large scale land management. Areas of East Maui were fenced and feral ungulates removed. The recovery plan also included a captive breeding program, which resulted in its first chick in 2003.


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