Nuku pu’u

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Image:Nuku upu.JPG

Hawaiian Name: ‘nuku pu’u
Common Name: nuku pu’u
Scientific Name: Hemignathus lucidus affinis

Size: 6 inches (14cm)

Habitat: Oceania; endemic to eastern Maui, where it is dependent on high-elevation mesic and wet forests of ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) and koa (Acacia koa).

Status: Probably Extinct (1998). Global Population: 0 mature individuals. The last sightings - both on Kauaʻi and Maui - were in 1998, though it is possible some of the sighting in the 1990s actually involve the Kauaʻi ʻAmakihi. Later sightings remain unconfirmed. Recent surveys have failed to locate the species and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that it in all probability is extinct or functionally extinct. BirdLife International (and thereby IUCN) have chosen to retain its status as critically endangered until additional surveys have confirmed its extinction beyond reasonable doubts. As with several other Hawaiian honeycreepers, the decline of the nuku puʻu is connected to habitat loss (both due to man and hurricanes), introduced predators and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The nuku puʻu is one of the species a project of the East Maui Watershed has been aimed at. Other birds from this area included the ʻŌʻū and the Poʻouli. The project involved fencing in the area and eradicating introduced predators. The entire project took out 22 feral cats, 209 pigs, 1,596 Polynesian rats, 1,205 black rats, and 1,948 common mice. On Kauaʻi, comparable projects exist around the Koaiʻe Stream.

Diet: Insects and beetle larvae. Often joins mixed species foraging flocks. Apparently would creep along large ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) limbs searching epiphytes, moss, bark, and dead wood for arthropod prey; may also have taken nectar. Hammered bark with lower mandible, similar to its congener the ‘akiapōlā‘au (H. munroi), and used its upper mandible to fish out prey from excavations.

Breeding: Adult males are olive green with a yellow head, throat, and breast and have a small black mask; females are olive green above and variable yellow-gray below.

Older Koa trees are excavated for nesting cavity.

Cool Facts: Nuku pu‘u also are known from O‘ahu (H. l. lucidus) and Kaua‘i (H. l. hanapepe); the O‘ahu subspecies is certainly extinct. Currently, all nuku pu‘u are considered one species, however, ongoing research suggests that populations occurring on the three islands are distinct species. Historic and fossil evidence indicates that its range was much broader and remnant populations may have been surviving in marginal habitat. Habitat conditions of the species’ former range vary. Areas where nuku pu‘u were most recently sighted are managed as a Forest Reserve by the State of Hawai‘i or by the National Park Service.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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