Hawaiian honeycreeper

Hawaiian honeycreepers are small, passerine birds endemic to Hawaiʻi. They are closely related to the rosefinches in the genus Carpodacus. Their great morphological diversity is the result of adaptive radiation in an insular environment.[1][2]

Before the introduction of molecular phylogenetic techniques, the relationship of the Hawaiian honeycreepers to other bird species was controversial. The honeycreepers were sometimes categorized as a family Drepanididae,[3] other authorities considered them a subfamily, Drepanidinae, of Fringillidae, the finch family. The entire group was also called "Drepanidini" in treatments where buntings and American sparrows (Passerellidae) are included in the finch family; this term is preferred for just one subgroup of the birds today.[4][5] Most recently, the entire group has been subsumed into the finch subfamily Carduelinae.[2][6]

Hawaiian honeycreeper
ʻIʻiwi (Drepanis coccinea)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae

See text


Drepanidini (see text)

Beak and tongue shapes of the Drepanididae and the Mohoidae


The group is divided into three tribes, but only very provisionally so. Several taxa appear to be too basal to really place into one of these, and others are best considered incertae sedis. Some unusual forms never seen alive by scientists, such as Xestospiza or Vangulifer, cannot easily be placed into any tribe.


Members of Psittirostrini, known as "Hawaiian finches", are granivorous with thick finch-like bills, and songs like those of cardueline finches. The group once covered the islands. Finch-billed drepanids include the Laysan finch, the Nihoa finch, the Maui parrotbill and the palila, which may be the last remaining species left alive in this group. Extinct species include the four koa finches, the ʻōʻū, and the Lānaʻi hookbill.


Birds of the tribe Hemignathini are generally thin-billed billed species that feed on nectar and insects, and include the ʻamakihis as well as the Hawaiʻi creeper and its allies, such as the nukupuʻu. Though these are generally green-plumaged birds, a few members of this group have yellow, orange, red and/or gray feathers.


Species in the tribe Drepanidini are nectarivorous, and their songs contain nasal squeaks and whistles. It includes the ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane, ʻakohekohe and the extinct mamos.


In the tribe Psittirostrini the males are more brightly colored than the females, but in the Hemignathini and Drepanidini they often look very similar. Nearly all species of Hawaiian Honeycreepers have been noted as having a unique odor to their plumage, described by many researchers as "rather like that of old canvas tents".[7][8] This "Drepanidine odor" is suspected by some as having a role in making the bird distasteful to predators.[9]

Today, the flowers of the native ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) are favored by a number of nectarivorous honeycreepers. The wide range of bills in this group, from thick, finch-like bills to slender, downcurved bills for probing flowers have arisen through adaptive radiation, where an ancestral finch has evolved to fill a large number of ecological niches. Some 20 species of Hawaiian honeycreeper have become extinct in the recent past, and many more in earlier times, between the arrival of the Polynesians who introduced the first rats, chickens, pigs, and dogs, and hunted and converted habitat for agriculture.[10][11]

Genera and species

The term "prehistoric" indicates species that became extinct between the initial human settlement of Hawaiʻi (i.e., from the late 1st millennium AD on) and European contact in 1778.

Subfamily Carduelinae

See also

Cited references

  1. ^ Lerner, H.R.L.; Meyer, M.; James, H.F.; Fleischer, R.C. (2011). "Multilocus resolution of phylogeny and timescale in the extant adaptive radiation of Hawaiian Honeycreepers". Current Biology. 21 (21): 1838–1844. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.09.039. PMID 22018543.
  2. ^ a b Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002. PMID 22023825.
  3. ^ Clements, J. 2007. The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. 6th ed. ISBN 978-0-7136-8695-1
  4. ^ Dickinson, E, ed. (2003). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World (3rd ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11701-0.
  5. ^ AOU Check-list of North American Birds Accessed 26 December 2007
  6. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  7. ^ Pratt, H Douglas (2002). The Hawaiian Honeycreepers. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-854653-5.
  8. ^ Pratt, H. Douglas (1992). "Is the Poo-uli a Hawaiian Honeycreeper (Drepanidinae)?" (PDF). The Condor. Cooper Ornithological Society. 94: 172–180. doi:10.2307/1368806. JSTOR 1368806.
  9. ^ Weldon, Paul J; John H. Rappole (1997). "A Survey of Birds Odorous or Unpalatable to Humans: Possible Indications of Chemical Defense". Journal of Chemical Ecology. Springer Science+Business Media. 23 (11): 2609–2633. doi:10.1023/B:JOEC.0000006670.79075.92.
  10. ^ Olson, Storrs L.; James, Helen F (1991). "Descriptions of Thirty-Two New Species of Birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part I. Non-Passeriformes". Ornithological Monographs. 45 (45): 1–91. doi:10.2307/40166794. hdl:10088/1745. JSTOR 40166794.
  11. ^ James, Helen F.; Olson, Storrs L (1991). "Descriptions of Thirty-Two New Species of Birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part II. Passeriformes". Ornithological Monographs. 46 (46): 1–92. doi:10.2307/40166713. hdl:10088/1746. JSTOR 40166713.
  12. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2014). The Eponym Dictionary of Birds. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9781472905741. The genus Aidemedia is named in honor of Joan Aidem.
  13. ^ James, Helen F; Storrs L. Olson (2003). "A giant new species of nukupuu (Fringillidae: Drepanidini: Hemignathus) from the island of Hawaii". The Auk. 120 (4): 970–981. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120[0970:AGNSON]2.0.CO;2.
  14. ^ James, Helen F.; Johnathan P. Prince (May 2008). "Integration of palaeontological, historical, and geographical data on the extinction of koa-finches". Diversity & Distributions. 14 (3): 441–451. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00442.x.

Other references

  • Groth, J. G. 1998. Molecular phylogeny of the cardueline finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers. Ostrich, 69: 401.

External links


Akialoa is an extinct genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.

The birds were endemic to Hawaii.


Chloridops is an extinct genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.


Chlorodrepanis is a genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.

The birds are endemic to Hawaii.


Drepanidini is a tribe of Hawaiian honeycreeper birds. Members of this tribe are nectarivorous and have brightly colored plumage. Their songs contain nasal squeaks and whistles.


Drepanis is a genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.

The birds are endemic to Hawaii.

Greater ʻamakihi

The greater ʻamakihi (Viridonia sagittirostris) was a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.

It was endemic to the Island of Hawaii. The species was last recorded in 1901 and is now considered extinct.

Hawaiian honeycreeper conservation

Hawaiian honeycreepers (Fringillidae), of the subfamily Carduelinae, were once quite abundant in all forests throughout Hawai'i. This group of birds historically consisted of at least 51 species. Less than half of Hawaii's previously extant species of honeycreeper still exist. Threats to species include habitat loss, avian malaria, predation by non-native mammals, and competition from non-native birds.

Hawaiian tropical dry forests

The Hawaiian tropical dry forests are a tropical dry broadleaf forest ecoregion in the Hawaiian Islands. They cover an area of 6,600 km2 (2,500 sq mi) on the leeward side of the main islands and the summits of Niʻihau and Kahoʻolawe. These forests are either seasonal or sclerophyllous. Annual rainfall is less than 127 cm (50 in) and may be as low as 25 cm (9.8 in); the rainy season lasts from November to March. Dominant tree species include koa (Acacia koa), koaiʻa (A. koaia), ʻakoko (Euphorbia spp.), ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), lonomea (Sapindus oahuensis), māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), loulu (Pritchardia spp.), lama (Diospyros sandwicensis), olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis), wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis), and ʻiliahi (Santalum spp.). Endemic plant species in the dry forests include hau heleʻula (Kokia cookei), uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis), and Gouania spp. The palila (Loxioides bailleui), a Hawaiian honeycreeper, is restricted to this type of habitat.


Hemignathus is a Hawaiian honeycreeper genus in the Carduelinae subfamily of the finch (Fringillidae) family.

These birds are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Kauaʻi ʻakialoa

The Kauaʻi ʻakialoa (Akialoa stejnegeri) was a Hawaiian honeycreeper in the subfamily Carduelinae of the family Fringillidae. It was endemic to the island of Kauai, Hawaii. It became extinct due to introduced avian disease and habitat loss. The Kauaʻi ʻakialoa was about seven and a half inches in length and had a very long downcurved bill, which covered one third of its length. The adult males were bright olive-yellow on top and yellow on the bottom. The throat, breast, and sides of the body were olive-yellow. The females, however, were green-gray above and had a shorter bill.

Kauaʻi ʻamakihi

The Kauaʻi ʻamakihi (Chlorodrepanis stejnegeri) is a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper endemic to Kauaʻi. Birds of both sexes are greenish-yellow with black lores and a large, sickle-shaped, downcurved beak. The beak is larger than that of the other three ʻamakihi species and occasionally leads to misidentification as a Kauaʻi nukupuʻu, which is thought to be extinct. Like other honeycreepers, the Kauaʻi ʻamakihi is threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, and avian malaria, but has not been affected as strongly as other species in the subfamily.


Loxioides is a genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper, in the subfamily Carduelinae.

The birds are endemic to Hawaii.


Loxops is a Hawaiian honeycreeper genus in the finch family, Fringillidae.

The genus contains the following species:

‘Akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris)

Hawaiʻi ʻakepa (Loxops coccineus)

Oʻahu ʻakepa (Loxops wolstenholmei) (extinct)

Maui ʻakepa (Loxops ochraceus)

Hawaiʻi creeper (Loxops mana)


The nukupuʻu (genus Hemignathus) is a group of critically endangered species of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Fringillidae family. There are no recent confirmed records for any of the species and they may be extinct or functionally extinct. Habitat was dense mesic and wet forests of ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) and koa (Acacia koa) at altitudes of 3,300–6,600 feet (1,000–2,000 m).

Oʻahu ʻalauahio

The O'ahu 'alauahio (Paroreomyza maculata), also known as the Oahu creeper, is a small finch-like Hawaiian honeycreeper that is endemic to the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Oʻahu ʻamakihi

The Oʻahu ʻamakihi (Chlorodrepanis flava) is a species of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Fringillidae family. The male is rich yellow below, sharply contrasted with greenish upper parts. Females are duller and have two prominent wing-bars. It has a total length of approximately 4.5 inches (11 cm). It is endemic to the island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi.


Paroreomyza is a genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper in the Carduelinae subfamily of the Fringillidae family.

The birds are endemic to Hawaii.


Telespiza is a genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper. All species in it are or were endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.


The ʻiʻiwi (Drepanis coccinea, pronounced , ee-EE-vee), or scarlet honeycreeper is a "hummingbird-niched" species of Hawaiian honeycreeper. It is one of the most plentiful species of this family, many of which are endangered or extinct. The ʻiʻiwi is a highly recognizable symbol of Hawaiʻi. The ʻiʻiwi is the third most common native land bird in the Hawaiian Islands. Large colonies of ʻiʻiwi inhabit the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Kauaʻi, with smaller colonies on Molokaʻi and Oʻahu but are no longer present on Lānaʻi. Altogether, the remaining populations total 350,000 individuals, but are decreasing.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.