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Hawaiian Honeycreeper
Maui Parrotbill, Pseudonestor xanthophrys
Maui Parrotbill, Pseudonestor xanthophrys
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Drepanididae
Cabanis, 1847
Psittirostra (extinct?)
Dysmorodrepanis (extinct)
Rhodacanthis (extinct)
Chloridops (extinct)
Orthiospiza (extinct)
Xestospiza (extinct)
Magumma (disputed)
Akialoa (disputed; extinct)
Heterorhynchus (disputed)
Vangulifer (extinct)
Aidemedia (extinct)
Ciridops (extinct)
Drepanis (extinct)
Melamprosops (extinct?)

Hawaiian honeycreepers are small passerine birds endemic to Hawaiʻi. Some authorities categorize this group as the subfamily Drepanidinae of the finch family Fringillidae, to which they are closely related, but they are usually given full family status as the Drepanididae.

The family is divided into three tribes

  • Psittirostrini (Hawaiian finches), seedeaters with thick finch-like bills and songs like those of cardueline finches.
  • Hemignathini (Hawaiian creepers and allies, including nukupuʻus). These are generally green-plumaged birds with thin bills which feed on nectar and insects
  • Drepanidini (Mamos, ‘I‘iwi and allies). These are birds often with red plumage. They are nectar-feeders and their songs contain nasal squeaks and whistles.

Some unusual forms extinct in earlier times, like Xestospiza or Vangulifer, cannot easily be placed into these tribes.

The male Hawaiian Honeycreepers are often more brightly coloured than the females, but in the Hemignathini, they often look very similar. The flowers of the native plant Metrosideros polymorpha (‘ohi‘a lehua) are favoured by a number of nectar-eating honeycreepers.

The wide range of bills in this group, from thick finch-like bills to slender downcurved bills for probing flowers have arisen through adaptive radiation, where an ancestral finch has evolved to fill a large number of ecological niches. Some 15 forms of Hawaiian Honeycreeper have become extinct in the recent past, many more since the arrival of the Polynesians who introduced the first rats. The recent extinctions are due to the introduction of other rodent species and the mongoose, habitat destruction and avian malaria and fowlpox.


  • Family: Drepanididae (or: Drepaniidae)
    • Genus: Telespiza - finch-like, granivores, opportunistic scavengers
      • Nihoa Finch, Telespiza ultima
        Laysan Finch, Telespiza cantans
        Kaua‘i Finch, Telespiza persecutrix Conservation status: Prehistoric
        Maui Nui Finch, Telespiza ypsilon Conservation status: Prehistoric
    • Genus: Psittirostra - slightly hooked bill, ‘Ie‘ie fruit specialist
      • ‘O‘u, Psittirostra psittacea Conservation status: Critical, probably extinct late 1990s
    • Genus: Dysmorodrepanis - pincer-like bill, possibly snail specialist
      • Lana‘i Hookbill, Dysmorodrepanis munroi Conservation status: Extinct (1918)
    • Genus: Loxioides - finch-like, Mamane seed specialist (L. bailleui)
      • Palila, Loxioides bailleui
      • Kauaʻi Palila, Loxioides kikuichi Conservation status: Prehistoric
    • Genus: Rhodacanthis - finch-like, Koa seed specialists
    • Genus: Chloridops - thick-billed, Naio and other hard seed specialist
    • Genus: Orthiospiza - large weak bill, possibly soft seed or fruit specialist?
    • Genus: Xestospiza - cone-shaped bills, possibly insectivores
    • Genus: Peseudonestor - parrot-like bill, probes rotting wood for insect larvae
      • Maui Parrotbill, Pseudonestor xanthophrys
    • Genus: Hemignathus - pointed or long and decurved bills, insectivores or nectarivores
      • Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus virens
      • O‘ahu ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus flavus
      • Kaua‘i ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus kauaiensis
      • Nukupu‘u, Hemignathus lucidus
      • ‘Anianiau, Hemignathus parvus or Magumma parva
      • Greater ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus sagittirostris Conservation status: Extinct (1901)
      • Giant ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus vorpalis Conservation status: Prehistoric
      • Hawai‘i ‘Akialoa, Hemignathus obscurus or Akialoa obscura Conservation status: Extinct (1940)
      • Maui Nui ‘Akialoa, Hemignathus lanaiensis or Akialoa lanaiensis Conservation status: Extinct (1892)
      • O‘ahu ‘Akialoa, Hemignathus ellisianus or Akialoa ellisiana Conservation status: Extinct (1940)
      • Kaua‘i ‘Akialoa, Hemignathus stejnegeri or Akialoa stejnegeri Conservation status: Extinct (1969)
      • Hoopoe-billed ‘Akialoa, Hemignathus upupirostris or Akialoa upupirostris Conservation status: Prehistoric
      • ‘Akiapola‘au, Hemignathus munroi or Heterorhynchus wilsoni
    • Genus: Oreomystis - short pointed bills, browsers
      • ‘Akikiki, Oreomystis bairdi
      • Hawai‘i "Creeper", Oreomystis mana
    • Genus: Paroreomyza - similar to Oreomystis
      • Maui ‘Alauahio, Paroreomyza montana (more properly called Maui Nui ‘Alauahio, but today occurs on Maui only)
      • Kakawahie, Paroreomyza flammea Conservation status: Extinct (1963)
      • O‘ahu ‘Alauahio, Paroreomyza maculata
    • Genus: Vangulifer - flat rounded bills, possibly caught flying insects
    • Genus: Aidemedia - straight thin bills, insectivores
    • Genus: Loxops - small pointed bills with the tips offset a little horizontally, insectivores
      • ‘Akeke‘e, Loxops caeruleirostris
      • Akepa, Loxops coccineus
    • Genus: Ciridops - finch-like, fed on Loulu fruits etc.
    • Genus: Vestiaria - decurved bill, nectarivore
      • ‘I‘iwi, Vestiaria coccinea
    • Genus: Drepanis - decurved bills, nectarivores
    • Genus: Palmeria - thin bill, nectarivore, especially ʻOhiʻa
      • ‘Akohekohe, Palmeria dolei
    • Genus: Himatione - thin bill, nectarivore
      • ‘Apapane, Himatione sanguinea
    • Genus: Melamprosops - short pointed bill, browser and snail specialist

Several other known species are undescribed, as they are known only from very fragmentary fossil remains insufficient to deterine taxonomic affiliation. The term "prehistoric" above indicates birds that went extinct between first human settlement of Hawai‘i around 400 AD and European contact in 1778.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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