Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
Moloka‘i Creeper / Paroreomyza flammea / Kākāwahie (wood chopping)
||The kākāwahie is five inches in length and described as either bright red or bright orange with dark wings and tail feathers. Female birds are darker olive-brown with some red/orange feathers.
|Moloka‘i Creeper - Painting by Sheryl Ives Boynton
Habitat & Behavior:
This extremely rare bird lives in wet ‘ōhi‘a forests and climbs tree trunks and large branches for insects, often hanging upside down to feed. Beetle larvae is the major part of its diet.
“Kākāwahie” means “wood chopping” in Hawaiian and this bird got its name because of its “chipping” call. Their song is not known.
Past & Present:
Historically, 12 species of forest birds were found on Moloka‘i. One of these became extinct in this century and five of them are now endangered, the kākāwahie being one of these. It was abundant on the windward and leeward sides of Moloka‘i in the 1890s. The kākāwahie was last seen in 1963 in the rugged high country between Pepeopae Bog, Papaala Pali, and Waikolu. It is believed to be very rare or extinct.
Habitat degradation and destruction, human exploitation, predation, avian diseases, and competition with introduced species are all factors in the decline of the Moloka‘i creeper and many other native forest birds.
The kākāwahie was listed as an endangered species on October 13, 1970, under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The first draft of the Maui-Moloka‘i Forest Bird Recovery Plan was published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1976 and served as a valuable guidance for research on the species. The Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds (2006) recommends continued partnerships with other agencies to protect essential forest bird habitat, continued support in the eradication of introduced plants and animals, habitat management in existing reserves, and enhancement of remaining forest bird habitat.
September 20, 2012