WatchList Species Account for Maui Parrotbill
(Pseudonestor xanthophrys)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species


Maui Parrotbill
Photo: Eric VanderWerf

The Maui Parrotbill, with an estimated total population of 500 individuals, is found only in the remote, high-elevation rain forests on the north slopes of eastern Maui, where it is resident above 3,930 feet in native montane forest dominated by ‘ohi’a. It is not present in adjacent areas dominated by exotic trees. Much of the bird's remaining habitat is on national park and state lands, and in a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy.


The first parrotbill nest was not discovered until 1993, and natural history studies of the species only began in the 1980s. This bird uses its large, parrot-like bill to pluck and bite open fruit, lift bark and lichens, and rip open branches and stems in search of invertebrates. Since the chicks remain dependent on the parents for five months or longer, it is often sighted in family groups.


Potential threats are predation by rats, cats, and the introduced Barn Owl. Disease, habitat degradation by introduced ungulates, and competition from introduced bird species also pose threats to this bird. Low-flying helicopters may disturb the birds, particularly during its nesting season.


Among the management practices used by all three are controlling alien plants and fencing for control and exclusion of large feral mammals. The bird is on the endangered species list and is classified by BirdLife International as critical.