Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi

Hemignathus virens
Amakihi in tree

The Hawai‘i ‘amakihi is a small, generalist Hawaiian honeycreeper that occurs on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i. Until 1995, the Hawai‘i ‘amakihi, and the O‘ahu (H. flavus) and Kaua‘i ‘amakihi (H. kauaiensis) were considered a single species: the common ‘amakihi (H. virens).

Plumage of male Hawai‘i ‘amakihi is bright yellow-green above, and there is some inter-island variation, especially among females. Both have decurved bills.

They are generalized foragers that most often glean arthropods from the leaves, blossoms, twigs, branches, and less frequently from tree trucks of a variety of trees, ferns, and shrubs. They feed on nectar predominately from the flowers of ‘ōhi‘a, māmane, and native lobelias, but also forages on flowers of a number of other native and non-native plants.

Courtship behavior is somewhat complex and includes courtship chases, advertising displays, and courtship feeding. Pairs will remain together for successive breeding seasons. Pair selects nest site; female builds an open-cup nest and lays two or three eggs. Only females incubate eggs and brood nestlings. Males deliver food to females who then feed nestlings. Fledglings are dependent on parents for up to three months. They usually raise two broods in a season.

Although Hawai‘i ‘amakihi populations appear stable they are likely susceptible to the same factors that threaten other native Hawaiian forest birds, including: loss and degradation of habitat, predation by introduced mammals, and disease.

Facts About Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi

Hawai‘i ‘amakihi likely have benefited from management activities designed to conserve other endangered forest birds in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and the ‘Ōla‘a/Kīlauea Watershed Partnership. These efforts include fencing, ungulate and small mammal control, forest restoration, habitat monitoring, and studies of disease and disease vectors.