I’iwi

I saw this I’iwi (Drepanis coccinea) on a trail off of Saddle Road, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. These bright red birds are native Hawaiian honeycreepers and in the old days, the feathers of the birds were collected to make cloaks for Hawaiian royalty.

The curved bill is suited for feeding on native lobelias, but a decline in those plants has seen the I’iwi adapt to feeding on other native plants including ʻōhiʻa lehua, māmane, and ohelo.

While the numbers of I’iwi are still fairly good, particularly on the Big Island and Maui, they have suffered, like other birds, from loss of habitat. In addition, They are susceptible to avian malaria, spread by mosquitoes. Consequently, I’iwi are doing better at higher elevations, such as where this photo was taken at around 6,000 feet.

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