'Akepa

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image: akepa.jpg

Common Name: ‘Akepa

Scientific Name: Loxops coccineus coccineus

Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

Habitat: Oceania; Hawaiian Islands. Found on the island of Hawai’i, Mau’i and Kaua`i. Fossil evidence shows it was once found in O’ahu as well. Found most commonly in ‘Ohi'a-lehua and Koa-`Ohi`a forests above 3,000 feet.

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 14,000 mature individuals. The ʻākepa was common in the 1800s on Mau’i and Kaua`i, but the largest population today remains on the Big Island (estimated at 14,000). The smallest population today is on Maui with an estimated number of 230. It is estimated that 5,100 individuals of this species live on Kaua`i today. O`ahu ʻākepa were documented to be rare even in the 1800s and are believed to be extinct today, with the last possible sighting in 1976. Aggressive non-native plants and animals and loss of habitat are threats to the survival of the `Akepa.

Diet: Primarily of insects and spiders; some nectar from ’ohi’a blossoms.

Nesting: ʻākepas on Hawai’i nest only in cavities in large, old-growth 'Ohi'a and Koa trees. Since no Hawaiian birds are known to excavate tree cavities, ʻākepas are dependent on naturally occurring cavities for nesting sites. Females are solely responsible for nest construction, which is unusual among the insectivorous and nectarivorous members of the Hawaiian honeycreepers group. Typical clutches have only one or two eggs, which results in an unusually low annual reproductive output for a small songbird. Another interesting aspect of ʻākepas' breeding behavior is that males perform large, lek-like group displays, despite the fact that ʻākepas are monogamous birds that form long-term pair bonds. Since this species is an obligate tree cavity nester, the logging of old, mature trees has eliminated potential nesting sites and decreased available foraging habitat.

Cool Facts: Akepa in Hawaiian means nimble or quick. ʻākepa is also known as `Akakane, and the Maui ʻākepa as `Akepeu`ie. They use their bills to pry open `ohi`a buds, small seed pods, and galls in search of food. They have been known to drink nectar from `ohi`a and other flowers. Their "kee-wit" calls are quiet and their songs are a short, warbling trill.

The Mau’i and Hawai`i ʻākepa were listed as an endangered species on October 13, 1970. A large population of ʻākepas on Hawaii is protected at the Hakalau Forest NWR, which was created in 1985 to protect native Hawaiian forest birds and their habitats. A threatened population of these birds is protected by the Pu'u Wa'awa'a State Wildlife Preserve on northern Hualalai. ʻākepas also receive lesser protection at the Ka'u Forest Reserve, Kulani Prison, and Kilauea-Keauhou forests. Current conservation efforts on Hawaii include the introduction of artificial nest cavities at Hakalau Forest NWR. While only one artificial cavity (out of 69) has been used by ʻākepas, that one cavity was used successfully by a pair two years in a row. While the reasons for the decline of ʻākepas on Mau’i are not understood, conservation efforts on that island have included the virtual elimination of feral pigs from important natural areas, as well as attempts to control rat populations. Despite these efforts, Mau’i ʻākepas have continued to decline, and may well be extinct.

The Hawaiian word ʻākepa means “Active”, “Nimble” or “Quick”.


Found in Songbird Remix Threatened, Endangered, Extinct 2 and Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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