Native bird named ‘Christmas’ highlights recovery of Hawaiian honeycreepers

Bird mist netting at Pu‘u Maka‘ala NAR, ʻōmaʻo on Mauna Loa (Dec. 5, 2022):
Bird mist netting at Pu‘u Maka‘ala NAR, ʻōmaʻo on Mauna Loa (Dec. 5, 2022):(DLNR)
Published: Dec. 24, 2022 at 3:20 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 24, 2022 at 3:21 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - State wildlife experts are showing off an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper they nicknamed “Christmas.”

The honeycreeper is part of an endangered species called akiapolaʻau that is native to Hawaii Island.

Researchers named the bird Christmas because of the red and green leg band used to identify him whenever he’s caught in mist nets.

Christmas is believed to be the oldest-living akiapolaʻau, aged at 9-years-old.

Extinction is a near threat for this particular species and all Hawaiian honeycreepers with the threat of avian malaria.

Fortunately, the akiapolaʻau population is seeing an increase in numbers due to forest restoration and reducing the population of predators.

A fruit-eating native bird species is also helping with this cause.

“They’re actually helping us to regenerate the native forest even quicker than if we were doing it ourselves,” Mossman said.

Plus, thousands of Koa trees were planted at Puu Makaala and other neighboring islands.

Researchers said one of Christmas’ offspring has moved from the north side to the south side of the Natural Area Reserve.