I`iwi: Drepanis coccinea

Chirppy Chirp. By Brodie Saphore


I am an I`iwi of the genus Drepanis Coccinea, my Feathers are of a crimson and reddish shade of orange, my tail and wings black as the night sky. My ancestors came to the Hawaiian islands long ago from an unintentional of course exploration which lead to the finding of these magnificent islands . However the struggle they had when adapting to this Island chain they soon found their place here and we grew in numbers, These relatives were known as Rosefinches. After a while they began to change and alter to live in this new area, my family line developed long curved beaks to allow us to drink sweet nectar, other relatives developed stronger beaks for cracking seeds open and strong flexible beaks for probing tree bark.


My family food source was that of the beautiful Hawaiian Lobelioids, however nearly a century ago they started to decline and were scarce to find. Soon enough through sheer luck we found a new food source within the Ohia Lehua flower as well as small arthropods if we must. Most of our food is found in high elevations and that is where we make our home, however because we are so adapted to these high climates we seldom survive in low altitudes. We seldom survive in these altitudes not because of direct temperature on us but that of the mosquitoes, they bare many diseases that we are not immune to with which could kill us with a single bite.

However our high elevation of home and food bares no hospitality to the mosquitoes and keep us quite alive from their taint, and as such allow us to make our nests in the treetop canopies of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. Sadly however the lower elevations and the hardier climates Oahu and Molokai hold small communities of our species which live in conservation areas, leaving Lanai with no known living I'iwi. Because of all of these unique environments in our life and the climate and habitat of Hawaii, we do not migrate in a fixed directional pattern but altitudinally among the Islands.


Over the many long years our Habitat has changed drastically leading to the extinction of our community on Lanai and the critical endangerment on Molokai and Oahu. More in depth of these changes are the deforestation of our homes, and food sources, the involvement of invasive plant species preventing our primary food source from flourishing for us to use. Other than this not much has changed within our habitat as we still gather similar parts to build our nests (may have plastic or a few pieces of trash that find its way to our home) Our habitats on Hawaii and Maui are under state and county protection preventing unnecessary tree chopping conserving most of our natural habitat. Molokai and Oahu also have conservation but the damage done towards these communities have been to hard on them and have already affected us.


Even though we live in an abundantly biodiverse home our population suffers with the introduction of new invasive species. Sadly only around 350,000 of us still remain in this world and the flourishing of our kind does not seem likely possible in the near future. If this were to succeed our largest populations on Hawaii and Maui would have to be cared for the most while our habitats on the other islands are rebuilt before we can migrate over. Conservation and replanting of our old food source the Lobelioids of Hawaii as well as the backup Ohia lehua and the eradication of the mosquitoes can provide us the means of our survival and the reforging of our old home. We Hold our ground! we sons and daughters of the I`iwi, of the Honeycreepers, my family, I see in our eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the will of our lives fails, when our food runs down and our species run low, but it is not this day. An hour of flight and song, when the age of the creepers comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fly! By all that we hold dear on this good Earth, I bid we stand, Honeycreepers of Hawaii!
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Much thought as to what was our common ancestor between my fellow Hawaiian Honeycreepers have been put to use current findings have found that the Rose finch would be named our common relative. These findings show that the rose finch was blown off course and found its way to Hawaii in which their flocks always contained both genders in which if an abundant food source was found they would reproduce and stay. Since hawaii was uninhabited by most and had an abundant amount of resources they stayed and changed leading up to the large group of different birds you see in the chart above.

From the anatomy between us I`iwi and the rosefinches our bodies and appearance have changed drastically from feather color, to beak size, shape, flexibility, and skeletal structure. From the chart above we do not have much in common with any other species besides the Akepa bird which shares our feather pattern and colors. However there were plentiful amounts of similar honeycreepers like us I`iwi they have all but gone extinct leaving us to continue the legacy and be the best birds we were born to be. CHIRP CHIRP CHIPPITY TWEET TWEETLES!


Hawaiian studies of freshman year taught by Kumu Iokepa Naeole, Hawaiian honeycreeper project presentation

I`iwi Wikipedia