Akikiki

Information about the Bird Akikiki

The akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi), also called the Kauai creeper, is a critically endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper endemic to Kauai, Hawaii.

The akikiki is small (13cm length; 12-17g mass), with gray plumage above and white below. It is not sexually dimorphic. Juveniles have large white eye rings; adults may retain a pale eyebrow for several years. Legs and bill are pink. The tail is short compared to other birds on Kauai, giving it a stocky appearance.
The adult contact call is a short weet or whit, sometimes doubled. The call may also resemble that of the anianiau, with which it may flock. Its song, heard only in breeding season, is a descending trill. The juvenile begging call is a stuttering series of chits. During the breeding season, females use a similar call to solicit feeding by males.
It is currently found only in the highest elevation native rainforests of Kokee State Park and the Alakai Wilderness Preserve on Kauai.Subfossil records indicate that it was once found at sea level as well, and thus may have inhabited a wider range of habitats, including dry forest.
The akikiki is often compared to the nuthatches of North America because it forages by hopping along the trunks and branches of both live and dead trees, picking off arthropods.Akikiki often forage in pairs, family groups, or mixed-species flocks.
Few akikiki nests have been found. Nesting occurs from March to June, with both males and females constructing nests of moss and lichen several meters up in the crowns of ohia trees. Only the female incubates the eggs, but both parents feed the nestlings and fledglings. The long juvenile dependency period means only a single brood per pair is typically raised each breeding season.
The akikiki-s habitat has been reduced to a fragment of its former range by deforestation and deterioration by invasive species. Avian malaria, to which most Hawaiian honeycreepers have little immunity, affects birds below approximately 1000m elevation and further restricts the akikiki-s range. Introduced rats are thought to be major predators of eggs and nestlings. Competition for food and space with non-native birds, such as Japanese white-eye, may also impact its numbers.
The akikiki has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2000. It has been a candidate for listing as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act since 1993, but was not listed as such until 2010. Because little is known about this species, the primary focus of recovery efforts so far have been estimating the population size and understanding its basic biology. Captive breeding, reintroduction, and habitat restoration are planned.

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