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Akiapolaau Picture

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The ?Akiapola?au (Hemignathus munroi) is a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Fringillidae family. It is found only in Hawai?i, on the Big Island . Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

It is found mostly in the high elevation forests of Mauna Kea where it is found in the O'hia-lehua-Koa forests. It feeds only on insects which are found hidden within the branches of the trees. It also looks for invertebrates at the floor of the forest were there is a large amount of natural growth. It has been called the Hawaiian Woodpecker because of how it looks for food and how it makes its nest. This bird uses its long bill to peck open the bark to reach the larvae, it then uses its thin upper bill to probe out the meal and uses its lower bill to crush its meal. It is a pudgy bird that has a whitish bottom and tail, black legs, yellow chest, orangish head, black face mask and bill and a grey black pair of wings. It song is a rapid "warba-warba"? that is repeated over and over again. Its behavior and life cycle are not well known, although it is known that it depends on Koa and O'hia-Lehua trees to find insects for its diet. Several nests of this species have been discovered, most of them only having one egg, and the rate of the egg to maturation is only fifty percent. It breeds only every other year and is therefore a slow reproducer.

Endangered status

Hemignathus munroi was common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, after that the population was being affected by rats that ate its eggs, thus limiting the increase of the wild stock. The population broke down into four populations, The smallest is three birds, another population has only twenty birds, and the largest of the small populations a group of forty-four. The largest population contains about 1,097 birds, and the figure appears to be dropping even though it is somewhat hard to find the birds. The three bird population is especially weak. This bird is threatened from the loss of habitat, where its forests is cut down. Rats, an introduced species, attack both the food sources and the birds themselves. Cats and dogs also hunt the birds.

Alien plants like the strawberry guava have been upstaging the two most depended on species of trees, the koa and o'hia trees. Pigs create wallows which can destroy the roots of trees and cause the trees to die. These wallows also can be used by mosquitos as a breeding ground. Mosquitoes which were introduced to the islands brought with them diseases that the birds are not resistant to.

This bird was included on the endangered species list in 1967 because of its fragmented populations, its low numbers, low reproductive numbers and habitat loss. Some efforts are being made for this species include aggressive reforestation, trying to get a captive population, the removal of feral ungulates and collecting of data about its life to help with the three other plans. Conservationists have yet to obtain the eggs of this species, which will be needed to create a breeding population in captivity. Moreover adults will be needed to keep up what little populations are still left. It is threatened by habitat loss and predation by invasive species.

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Listen to the Akiapolaau Call:

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