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Kakawahie Picture

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Description: Illustration from 1890.

The K?k?wahie or Moloka?i Creeper (Paroreomyza flammea) was a species of finch in the Fringillidae family. It is extinct, formerly occurring on the Hawaiian island of Moloka?i. It is five and a half inches long with clawed toes. This bird did look like a flame especially the males which were scarlet red all around. The female had more of a brownish tinge to its belly. Its call was a chip like someone was cutting up wood in the distance. They were discovered in the late 19th century when Wilson, a British ornithologist was lost in the fog. Wilson had shot down a female and two bright males. He collected several specimens and skins of other species of Molokai birds and then went back to England. They were fast flitting birds but neither the less, they were still endangered.


The Kakawahie or the Molokai Creeper was a species of finch that lived in the Akoke Forests. Its stronghold Akoke forest was the Ohialele Plateau, where it would always be seen before disappearing in 1963.


Apparently similar to the Maui ?Alauahio, it used its blunt and short beak to peck out insects from old naio trees. It mainly fed on grubs of beetles and caterpillars, however in rare cases, it sipped necter from flowers, which included the naio. It is depicted in several paintings from the early 18th,19th,and 20th centuries. The exterior of its nest was reportedly composed of moss. Theses birds were named Paroreomyza flammea, because it appeared as a ball of fire as it flit from tree to tree in search of invertebrates.


Causes of extinction were probably similar to those of other Hawaiian forest birds. Habitat destruction, avian disease spread through introduced mosquitoes, as well as introduced predators were all likely major factors in its decline. One reason was the introduction of mosquitos infected with fatal diseases. Some of these diseases include Avian Malaria and Avian Pox. These diseases caused the Kakawahie to grow ill and create lumps, which will eventually paralyze it and the bird dies of starvation. The birds were often killed and plucked of their red feathers of the birds to put in the capes and leis for the Alili or the nobles and royalty. The bird was affected by things that have small ranges, the loss of healthy Akoke forests causing them to not have enough habitat had for them. The most effective of these is the capture of the birds for their feathers to create lush capes for the Alili, or nobles. It was last sighted in montane rainforest at ??hi?alele Plateau in 1963. However there were reports of this bird holding on till the 70s, but after that it was definitely extinct.

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