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  • Writer's pictureCoach Polhemus

March Native Bird of the Month - 'Amakihi

Welcome back! This month we'll feature one of the more common native forest bird species, the Hawai'i 'Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens). 'Amakihi are found just about anywhere there are native 'ohia lehua trees, as the blossoms provide a large portion of their dietary needs. While their primary food source is 'ohia nectar, they will feed on small insects and spiders, as well as nectar from other native trees like mamane. '

Amakihi are found from sea level up to 9500 feet elevation, an indication that they have developed an immunity to avian malaria. Transmitted by mosquitoes, avian malaria has decimated dozens of other native forest bird populations across the state, so scientists are working to find out what sets the 'amakihi apart from other forest bird species.

Despite their different appearances, the birds pictured here are all of the same species. Recent studies have shown that differences in plumage are driven by a combination of rainfall and temperature, so birds in Volcano will generally feature darker plumage variations than those found on Mauna Kea. No matter where you are, their drawn out "cheeeeeee" call will tell you you're in 'amakihi country.

(Photo provided by Coach P)

(Photo provided by Coach P)

(Photo provided by Coach P)

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