Palila

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image: Palila.jpg

Common Name: Palila

Scientific Name: Loxioides bailleu

Size: 7.5 inches (19cm)

Habitat: Polynesia; Slopes of Mauna Kea on Hawaii. Found in Mamane forests.

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 2,512 Mature individuals. It is endangered because its main source of food, the Mamane tree is also threatened. Cattle from nearby ranches trample the root systems of the trees and thereby, killing them. Encroaching development also plays a role. In the mid-90’s the remaining Palila population was moved to the base of Mauna Kea where a 100 acre grove of Mamane trees still remained and was fenced off from cattle grazing. Unfortunately, invasive weeds and extremely flammable fountain grass surround the entire area. One wildfire could bring this bird to extinction and this author noted in a recent trip, numerous cigarettes butts were found scattered in the brush of its habitat.

Diet: Mamane Seeds; some insects and naio berries

Breeding: Nest in Mamane trees. The species exhibits low rates of reproduction, laying fewer eggs and taking longer to raise its young compared with mainland songbirds.

Cool Facts: The Palila lives the big Island of Hawaii. It nests and eats the seeds of the Mamane tree which is found on the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, above the 6,000 foot line. The Palila is the largest of the Hawaiian honeycreepers and is probably the most studied. Although the Palila has been known to eat some insects and naio berries, its primary diet comes from the Mamane tree. It eats seeds from its green pods, the flower petals and even the young leaves. The population numbers for the Palila are in direct proportion with the success of the Mamane’s blooming season.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened Endangered Extinct and Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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