No Hummingbirds in Hawaii? Here’s 19 Beautiful Honeycreepers Instead

Sharing is caring!

The Hawaiian Islands boast an impressive array of tropical fauna and flora. The Island of Hawaii alone has ten of the fourteen climate zones found on earth and over 300 bird species, with around 48 endemic species. But, I bet you would never guess that there are NO Hummingbirds! There is a ban on hummingbird importation because of potential damage to the native plant species in this volcanic island environment. Instead, the Hawaiian Islands have endemic species called Hawaiian Honeycreepers.

Honeycreepers belong to the Fringillidae family (relatives of the cardueline finches) and the subfamily Drepanididae. Recently, however, they changed to Carduelinae. Some experts argue that they are a family unto themselves. There were originally around 56 species, while only eighteen genera and approximately twenty species now remain.

Below we will be investigating each of the remaining species of Hawaiian Honeycreepers.

Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper

Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper

  • Scientific Names: Vestiaria coccinea or Drepanis coccinea
  • Other names: ʻIʻiwi
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.64 ounce
  • Wingspan: 7 to 8 inches

These birds are identifiable by their striking crimson body, with contrasting black wings and tails.

‘I’iwis are located in Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui Islands. They are generally found in “wet” montane forests, between 984 and 9514 feet.

The ʻIʻiwi is a pollinator species with a diet consisting of nectar. They target the ʻōhiva tree (Metrosideros polymorpha), lobelia, and mint flowers.  

The biggest threat to the ʻIʻiwi’s population is from avian-malaria.

Hawaii Amakihi

Hawaii Amakihi

  • Scientific Name: Chlorodrepanis virens
  • Other names: ʻamakihi
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.48 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6.5 to 7.5 inches

Hawaii Amakihi have a slightly downward curved beak with yellow bodies and a green hue on the wings.

ʻAmakihi inhabit forests and shrublands from sea level to 9500 feet on Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai Islands.

Their diet consists of nectar, insects, fruit, and tree sap.

Kaai Amakihi

  • Scientific Name: Chlorodrepanis stejnegeri
  • Length: 3.9 to 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.47 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6.5 to 7.5 inches

Kaua‘i’ amakihi are a dull yellow-green to olive color. They have a downward curving beak and a rounded tail, with black markings on their wings.

Kaua‘i’ amakihi are endemic to Kauai, and they inhabit wet montane forested areas located at around 2000 feet.

These birds eat a variety of foods, including nectar, fruit, and arthropods. Using their downward curved beak, they pierce the flowers of ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorph), searching for nectar.

Oahu Amakihi

  • Scientific Name: Chlorodrepanis flava
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.47 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

ʻAmakihi coloration consists of green underparts, a yellow chest, brown wings, and a grayish-brown head. They have rounded wings and tails with a slight downward curving beak.

These birds are endemic to O’ahu and are found in humid montane forested areas (1,650 feet).

Their diet consists of insects and nectar.

Akiapōlāʻau

  • Scientific Name: Hemignathus wilsoni
  • Length: 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.99 ounce
  • Wingspan: 7 to 8 inches

ʻAkiapōlāʻaus are primarily yellow, with a hint of green on their wings and black bills. They have white bellies and long downward curved beaks.

These birds are located on Hawaii Island and are found in Koa forests at higher elevations.

The ʻakiapōlāʻau has a peculiar bill, and it fulfills the same function as a woodpecker’s bill. They bore holes in ʻohi’a trees for sap and eat nectar and insects.

Apapane

  • Scientific Name: Himatione sanguine
  • Length: 5.1 inches
  • Weight: 0.51 to 0.56 ounce
  • Wingspan: 5 to 5.5 inches

Apapanes have bright red bodies with black wings and tails. Additionally, they have downward curved beaks, pointed wings, and a notched tail.

Apapanes are located on Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Kauai, Molokai, and Oʻahu Islands in high-altitude wet forests.

These pollinators are well-adapted to feeding on the ‘ohi’a flower by using their brush-tipped tongues. Their diet consists of nectar and insects.

They are also under threat from avian malaria.

Akeke‘e

  • Scientific Name: Loxops caeruleirostris
  • Length: 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 ounce
  • Wingspan: 3 to 4 inches

They feature a black eye mask on yellow-green plumage with notched tails and pointed wings.

They have asymmetrically shaped bills, which they use to feed on nectar and arthropods. They also use their unique “crossed” bill to open ōhi‘a flower buds in search of insects.

These critically endangered birds are restricted to forests at a higher elevation on Kauai Island.

Hawaii Akepa

  • Scientific Name: Loxops coccineus
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 ounce
  • Wingspan: 2.32 to 2.7 inches

ʻAkepa males are a bright orange-red color, with brown tails and wings. Females are a dusty gray-green color, with yellow underparts. They have a laterally symmetrical yellow beak.

 These birds are endemic to Hawaii. They inhabit wet and mesic koa-‘ohi’a forested areas at altitudes of between 3609 and 6890 feet. These birds mate for life and nest in tree cavities.

Hawaii Akepas’ diets consist of nectar, spiders, and insects.

Hawaii Creeper

  • Scientific Names: Oreomystis mana or Loxops mana
  • Other names: ʻalawī
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.47 ounce

These birds have olive green backs, yellow-brown bellies, and white throats. They have a thick, pale, and slightly curved bill.

These creepers are endemic to Hawaii. They are generally found between 5800 and 7400 feet in Ohia and koa forests.

Their diet primarily consists of insects and nectar.

Maui Akepa

  • Scientific Name: Loxops ochraceus
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 ounce
  • Wingspan: 3.94 inches

Males are a brilliant orange color, while females are gray-green on the back and light gray in front. These birds have rounded heads and black eyes, wings, and tails.

Akepas are found in moist and mesic koa-‘ohi’a forests on Maui Island, at elevations of greater than 4921 feet, and are believed to be potentially extinct.

The Maui ‘ akepa has a diet consisting of invertebrates and nectar.

Palila

  • Scientific Name: Loxioides bailleui
  • Length: 6 to 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 8 to 9 inches

Palilas have a yellow head, neck, and chest. Their underparts and back are gray, with gray and yellow wings.

The endemic Palila has formed a symbiosis with the māmane tree. They are found in dry, open māmane forests on Hawaii Island, and if there is a bad season for māmane tree fruits, the Palilas won’t breed that season.

They have a hard, robust, and rounded beak, which they use to open the hard Māmane seeds, their primary food. 

Anianiau

  • Scientific Name: Magumma parva
  • Length: 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

These brightly colored minute yellow birds are believed to be the smallest of the Hawaiian Honeycreepers.

They have black-gray pointed wings and notched tails.

Located on the Kauai Island, ‘anianiau are found in `ohi’a and mixed forests, at elevations of 328 to 1969 feet.

Their tongues can roll up to form a straw for sucking nectar. Their diet also consists of arthropods.

Kauai Creeper

  • Scientific Name: Oreomystis bairdi
  • Other names: ʻakikiki
  • Length: 5.11 inches
  • Weight: 0.42 to 0.59 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

Brown on the back and top of the head, and pale underneath, these birds are not as spectacular in coloration as some other species. They have fan-shaped tails and pointed wings.

Located on the Island of Kauai, these birds are critically endangered, with less than 500 left.

They are energetic and nimble little birds that turn upside down to hunt insects and larvae, which make up the bulk of their diets, from tree branches.

Crested Honeycreeper

  • Scientific Name: Palmeria dolei
  • Other names: ʻakohekohe
  • Length: 6.5 to 7 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 to 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 9 to 10 inches

They are strikingly attractive, with a patchwork of red, orange, white, and black coloring. They also have a fan-shaped tail and rounded wings.

These critically endangered birds are found in rainforests located at high elevations on the island of Maui.

Deriving their English name from the tuft of white feathers on their head, which forms a forward-sweeping crest, these birds play an active role in pollination.

Crested honeycreepers’ diets consist of nectar, insects, and fruits.

Maui Alauahio

  • Scientific Name: Paroreomyza montana newtoni
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.46 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

Males are bright yellow, while females are green-gray. They have notched tails and rounded wings.

They are found in many habitats on Maui Island, including `ohi’a tree dominated wet forests, scrub, and savannahs.

The previous year’s offspring will help feed the new generation and form family groups of two to six birds.

Their diets consist of nectar and insects.

Oahu Creeper

  • Scientific Name: Paroreomyza maculata
  • Other names: Oʻahu ʻalauahio
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.46 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

They have blue bills, yellow and green-hued bodies, and green tails.

The critically endangered (possibly extinct) ʻalauahio are located in lowland mesic to wet forests between 984 and 2133 feet in altitude.

They are found on O’ahu Island, and their diet consists of insects, spiders, snails, and earthworms.

Maui Parrotbill

  • Scientific Name: Pseudonestor xanthophrys
  • Other names: Kiwikiu
  • Length: 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.71 to 0.88 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6.5 to 7.5 inches

Kiwikius are olive green and yellow. Males are of a brighter yellow coloration and have a relatively large beak, reminiscent of a parrot’s (hooked).

With only around 300 birds left, this species was considered extinct but was later upgraded to critically endangered in the 1950s.

Kiwikius occur in wet montane forests, generally on higher altitude slopes, on Maui Island.

They use their sharp, powerful beaks to break open logs looking for food, such as larvae and insects. They also, however, eat nectar.

Laysan finch

  • Scientific Name: Telespiza cantans
  • Length: 7.48 inches
  • Weight: 1.2 ounces
  • Wingspan:12 to 13 inches

Laysan finches are large by honeycreeper standards and have fan-shaped tails and rounded wings. Males have brilliantly yellow heads with lighter underparts. Females are paler, with brown streaks.

These finches are endemic to Laysan Island. They occupy shrublands and grasslands.

Laysan finches are omnivores but lean toward a more herbivorous diet. They will, however, eat carrion when desperate.

On Laysan Island, they nest almost exclusively in bunchgrass (Eragrostis variabilis).

Nihoa finch

  • Scientific Name: Telespiza ultima
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.86 ounce

They are similar in their yellow coloration to Laysan finches but have a gray band separating the neck and back. Males tend to be bright yellow, while females have more streaks.

Located on the island of Nihoa, they are located in grassy, low shrub areas and marine intertidal areas. These finches are known for nesting in rocky crevices, cliff cavities, and loose rock piles.

Their diet consists of invertebrates, eggs, seeds, and other plant parts.

Conclusion

Although there are no species of hummingbirds found on the Hawaiian Islands, there is a Honeycreeper population. These birds have evolved to fill different niches in the native ecosystem, including pollination, seed dispersal, and insect control.

Most of the remaining 20 species of honeycreepers on this isolated archipelago are under severe threat from disease, the introduction of non-native animal species, and climate change, with many species already extinct.

Sharing is caring!