Known in English as the Crested Honeycreeper, the Ākohekohe is a brightly colored and boisterous bird whose raspy, guttural calls make it easy to locate. It is highly aggressive and territorial.
Its habitat is estimated to be only five percent of its original range; the species was formerly found elsewhere on Maui and on Molokaʻi, where it is now considered extinct. The Ākohekohe feeds mostly on nectar of native flowering trees, including the ʻohiʻa and koa, but it will also consume insects.
Threats to this unique bird include deforestation and the introduction of exotic species such as feral ungulates, which destroy native forests, as well as introduced Barn Owls, cats, rats, and mongoose. As elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands, introduced mosquito-borne disease has virtually eliminated this native species from elevations below 5,000 feet; 99 percent of its population is found above this elevation, up to treeline at approximately 7,000 feet.
Conservation measures for the Ākohekohe includes preserving and restoring native forest, particularly above the mosquito zone, and removal of feral animals, such as pigs. Fencing to exclude grazing mammals at important reserves, such as the state’s Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve, have benefited the Ākohekohe and its habitat..
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