National Wildlife Refuge
|60 Nowelo Street, Suite 100
Hilo, HI 96720 - 2469
Phone Number: 808-443-2300
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Continued . . . Four of the seven endangered forest birds--the `akia pola`au, the Hawaii `akepa, the Hawaii creeper, and the `io--found on Hawaii Island are commonly seen or heard on the refuge.
The rare `akia pola`au occurs in only a few areas of upper elevation on the Big Island. Its bill is the most unusual in the honeycreeper family. The lower bill is short, straight, and stout. With mouth agape, it is used to chisel holes, woodpecker style. The upper bill is long, curved, and slender. It is used to probe, pierce, and pull insects and caterpillars from the hole. The male is brilliant yellow with a black mask; the female is dull green with a less distinctive mask and slightly shorter bill.
The `akepa is an insect-eating bird with a short, straight bill. The male is blaze orange; the female is gray-green with tinges of yellow or orange on the breast. It is the only Hawaiian honeycreeper that always nests in natural tree cavities.
Both male and female Hawaii creepers are olive green. They are lighter underneath and have a short, straight bill and black mask. Creepers, often found in family groups or in loose flocks of mixed species, call softly to one another while flitting from tree to tree. The creeper is relatively common in the upper forested areas of the refuge.
The largest endangered forest bird in Hawaii is the `io (Hawaiian hawk). It is frequently seen soaring high above the tree canopy in search of birds, large insects, mice, and rats. Rarely seen in the 1960s and 1970s, hawks are now frequently observed from the coast to the tree line on mountain slopes.
Other endangered birds have been sighted at Hakalau Forest. The `o`u, a finch-billed honeycreeper with a yellow head, was last sighted in 1977. The nene (Hawaiian goose), state bird of Hawaii, was recently reintroduced to the refuge and is occasionally seen in the upper elevation grasslands where it feeds on grasses, seeds, and berries. The koloa (Hawaiian duck) is sometimes seen on stockponds and puddles. A single `alae ke`oke'o (Hawaiian coot) is regularly observed on a stockpond in the Upper Honohina Unit. The pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) is listed by the State as endangered on Oahu. It is commonly seen during daylight hours soaring over open areas in search of rodents, insects, and small birds.
Two nectar feeding members of the honeycreeper family, the scarlet `apapane and the orange-red i`iwi, abound in the forest canopy where `ohi`a lehua blossoms are plentiful. The `i`iwi, with its long, orange bill, is easily distinguished from the `apapane, which has a short, black bill and white feathers under the tail. The i`iwi's "squeaky hinge" call can be heard throughout the forest when the birds are present.
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