Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
Hawai‘i Creeper / Oreomystis mana
||The Hawai‘i creeper is 5 inches in length and is olive-green with a white throat and a dark gray raccoon-like mask. Its belly is paler than the rest of the body. It is often mistaken as an ‘amakihi, Hawai‘i ‘ākepa, or the Japanese white-eye because of similar appearance and behavior.
|Hawai‘i Creeper - Photo credit © Jack Jeffrey
Habitat & Behavior:
The Hawai‘i creeper belongs to the honeycreeper family and gets its name because of its creeping movement from branch to branch.
The Hawai‘i creeper is an active rainforest bird that lives in ‘ohi‘a-koa forests above 2,200 feet in elevation. It feeds primarily on insects gleaned from branches and tree trunks, but is sometimes seen feeding on nectar. The Hawai‘i Creeper travels in family groups and sometimes flocks with other native birds such as the ‘ākepa and the ‘akia pōlā‘au. It breeds from January to May. The Hawai‘i creeper has a rapid trill song and a thin “sweet” call.
Past & Present:
The Hawai‘i creeper used to be found in ‘ohi‘a and ‘ohi‘a-koa forests throughout the island but today is confined mostly to the upper elevation native forests on the windward coast. There are four distinct populations of this forest bird totaling about 14,000 birds.
Avian diseases transmitted by mosquitos, possible competition for food with introduced birds, predation by introduced rats and cats, and habitat destruction contribute to the decline of native birds.
The biggest threats to the continuing survival of Hawaiian forest birds are avian disease, predation by introduced mammals, and the destruction and severe disruption of their habitat as a result of logging, grazing, conversion of forest to agricultural uses, and invasion by introduced plants. Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge was established with the express intent to provide protected habitat for Hawai‘i’s native forest birds.
The Hawai‘i creeper was listed as an endangered species in September 1975 under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds (2006) published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends further study of the Hawai‘i creeper and other native forest birds; including behaviors and habitat requirements, continued support in the eradication of introduced plants and animals, habitat management of existing forest reserves, and development of new forest bird habitat.
September 20, 2012