WatchList Species Account for Oahu 'Amakihi
(Hemignathus chloris
or Hemignathus flavus)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species

 

Photo: Bill Hubick

The Oahu 'Amakihi is one of a group of four small, closely related, island-specific Hawaiian honeycreepers, which until 1995 were considered subspecies of the Common 'Amakihi. They are among the least specialized and most adaptable of native Hawaiian forest birds. This species is omnivorous, feeding on arthropods, nectar, and fruit. It often forages by creeping along trunks and branches, and up to 30 individuals may gather in loose foraging aggregations.

 

This 'Amakihi is endemic to the island of Oahu, where it was formerly found throughout the island; it is now found only in the Ko'olau and Wai'anae Mountains, in a wide variety of forests with both native and introduced species.

 

This species occurs at lower elevations than other native Hawaiian passerines, even entering suburban yards, parks and highly disturbed areas where introduced birds predominate. It is thought that this species is expanding into low elevations and repopulating portions of its former range, perhaps by developing resistance to avian malaria and pox. It faces other threats, however, such as clearing of habitat, depredation from feral mammal populations, and habitat degradation from invasive plants.

 

The Oahu 'Amakihi needs further research to understand its population dynamics and potential limiting factors, but despite the fact that it is found on the most populous Hawaiian Island and is easy to find and observe, little such work has yet been done. Its total numbers are estimated at 20,000-60,000. Protection of more forested habitat and restoration of degraded habitat would benefit the species.