Manu Minute: ˊApapane, The Flower Fan

Dec 2, 2020

An 'apapane sips the nectar from the yellow flowers of a māmane tree.
Credit Ann Tanimoto-Johnson

ˊApapane are the most abundant Hawaiian honeycreeper. Scientists estimate that there are over a million individuals throughout the state — about one ˊapapane per person in Hawai‘i.

Like the ˊamakihi, ˊapapane appear to be developing a genetic resistance to mosquito-borne avian malaria, which has helped them sustain their numbers. However, they are still vulnerable to habitat loss and predation.

A juvenile (left) and adult (right) ˊapapane. ˊApapane are crimson red with black wings and tails, and they have a distinct white patch of feathers under their tails. They have slightly curved black bills, black legs, and black feet. Juvenile birds are yellow-brown in color with white feathers under their tail.
Credit Ann Tanimoto-Johnson

ˊApapane can be found on all the main Hawaiian Islands. They are in much lower numbers on Lanaˊi, where they are the sole remaining honeycreeper.

Although ˊapapane prefer cooler climates above 3,000 feet in elevation, they will venture to lower levels in native forests if ˊōhiˊa lehua are in bloom. These ruby-red honeycreepers have brush-tipped tongues in order to sip nectar from native flowers.

Small flocks of ˊapapane will fly together from tree to tree to feed, which helps them evade more territorial birds like the ˊiˊiwi.

ˊApapane’s songs are composed of more than 400 different syllables, and they sing continually during the day, creating a wonderful chorus throughout the canopy.

Read about and hear other Hawaiian birds on our Manu Minute page.