Pollinators
U S Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Past Featured Pollinators:
  Crested Honeycreepers
  Karner blue butterfly
  Lesser long-nosed bat
 

Mexican long-nosed bat

  Rufous Hummingbird
  White-winged_Dove
More Pollinators:
  Fringed Orchids and Hawkmoths
  Hummingbirds in Alaska

Fun Fact:

The Crested Honeycreeper has many vocalizations, including"gutteral clucking gurgles, raspy croaks, buzzing sounds and clear unslurred whistles."

 

 

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Featured Pollinator

  Crested Honeycreeper (Palmeria dolei) . Credit: © Eric VanderWerf

Crested Honeycreepers (Palmeria dolei) are the largest bird of their kind on the Island of Maui.  They are called ‘crested’ because they have a series of large white feathers running down their head, just above their bill.  To either side of this crest, around their eyes, these native Hawaiian birds have bright orange plumage.  While they are mostly dark black, orange and silver accents on the wings and legs make this a beautiful bird.

Nests are built primarily by the female, twenty to thirty days before nesting.  These birds often have multiple broods, as egg laying begins in November, and the last chicks fledge in June.  The last chicks to fledge in the year may receive additional parental care lasting a month or more.

The Crested Honeycreeper is important because it pollinates the same flower that provides it with most of its food: the `ōhi`a plant.  Mainly nectarivorous, the Crested Honeycreeper pollinates flowers by accident as it feeds.

Photo of Metrosideros polymorpha Gaudich. var. polymorpha. Common name is 'ohi'a lehua. This is the most abundant and widespread tree in Hawaii. Photo copyright G.A. Cooper. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Department of Systematic Biology-Botany.
'Ohi'a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha var. polymorpha). credit: ęG.A. Cooper. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Department of Systematic Biology-Botany. United States, HI, Kilauea, Devastation Trail.

While the Crested Honeycreeper once lived on 485 square miles of terrain, spread out over two Hawaiian islands (Maui and Moloka’i), it now lives on only 5% of its former Maui territory, with no birds remaining on Moloka’i.  Most modern Crested Honeycreepers live between 5000 and 6600 feet above sea level on the northeastern slope of the Haleakala Volcano on the island of Maui.

In order to protect what the Hawaiians call the ‘Ākohekohe (after one of the noises it makes), the Fish and Wildlife Service has ensured that the Crested Honeycreeper will be protected under the Endangered Species Act.  A 7,500-acre Natural Area Reserve was set aside, and by 1996, two thousand acres had been fenced.  Once fenced, the wild ungulates (mainly pigs) were removed.  This protects the major food source of the Crested Honeycreeper, which was often trampled by pigs.  And, while this feisty bird’s aggressive nature makes captive breeding more difficult and expensive, such programs are under way in order to return it to all of the lands it once occupied.

Sources:
USFWS Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds, September 22, 2006

Birds of North America Online (From the CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY and the AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION)

* Perkins 1903, Berlin and Vangelder 1999, Vangelder and Smith 2001.  Qtd in USFWS Revised Recovery Plan for Hawaiian Forest Birds, September 22, 2006


Last Updated: June 28, 2012