Hawaii's endangered palila bird numbers dropping dramatically

HONOLULU (AP) - A new survey says the population of the endangered palila bird is continuing to drop dramatically. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday there only about 1,200 birds left of the species that is only found on the Big Island.

This is down from 2,200 in recent years and nearly 75 percent from about 4,400 in 2003. The songbird lives in mamane and naio forests on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

Officials say feral sheep and goats are destroying the mamane trees the bird relies on for much of its diet. Severe drought has further cut the bird's food supply. Predatory attacks from nonnative feral cats also are killing the birds.

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