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'AKIAPOLA'AU } Hemignathus munroi

RANGE: Hawaii

STATUS: The 'akiapola'au is classified as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

THREATS: Habitat loss, predation by nonnative species

Hawaii Island’s only bird species to fill the woodpecker niche, the 'Akiapola'au is a species of finch in the Hawaiian honeycreeper family. It uses its long, curved bill to break apart tree bark when foraging for insect prey, probing out its meal with its thin upper bill. Thanks to disease-carrying mosquitoes, this bird is restricted to cool forests at elevations between 4,300 and 6,900 feet — and it range will move ever upslope as its habitat warms. Currently, it survives in just four populations, the smallest of which consists of a mere three birds.

Photo by Eike Wulfmeyer, Keauhou Bird Conservation Center