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Manu Minute: The Vibrant Hawaiʻi ‘Ākepa

No conversation about the honeycreepers would be complete without mention of the ΄ākepa. Though populations once existed on Maui and Oʻahu, these little birds can now only be found on Hawaiʻi island.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that roughly 16,000 wild Hawaiʻi ΄ākepa remain, though the exact number could range anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 individuals.

Like the ʻiʻiwi and the ʻakikiki, ΄the Hawaiʻi ākepa have been pushed to ever-higher elevations in our native forests by encroaching populations of introduced mosquitos, which can carry avian malaria.

Another factor restricts the territory of the Hawaiʻi ΄ākepa. These honeycreepers are obligate cavity nesters, which is a fancy way of saying that they build their nests in the natural cavities that form in the biggest and oldest ΄ōhia and koa trees. As a result, you can only hear the high-pitched trill of a male Hawaiʻi ΄ākepa in the few preserved stretches of our native forests.

AMTJ_Hawaii akepa Spectrogram Video.mp4

Patrick Hart interests in the ecology and conservation of Hawaiian forests and forest birds stem from years of living in a primitive field camp as a graduate student in the 1990’s at Hakalau Forest National wildlife refuge.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote rejoined The Conversation in 2021 after interning for Hawaiʻi Public Radio in the summers of 2018 and 2019. She completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, during which time she worked for WMHC and Mount Holyoke News. She has also worked with the audio documentary series Outer Voices and National Geographic.
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