The Life of an I'iwi Honeycreeper

By Elisha Cullins

A day in the Life Of an I'iwi Honeycreeper

I wake up in the morning on the mountains near the coast of Keanae in Maui. The sun has risen and as nature dictates, I must find some delectable nectar to keep my energy and alertness high, as well as my health and wellbeing stable. Deforestation is growing near the canopies I reside in, yet there is plenty of flowers and vegetation which supply me with enough shelter and food.

As I set off my nesting perch, I quickly stretch and unfurl my crimson and black feathers before I set off. This sign of dominance shows other birds that my area has been marked to avoid predators and find as much food as possible. When I finally launch off of the branch of my nest, my short, stunted legs allow me to glide along the valley of Keanae with decreased drag.

The canopy beneath me widens out as I reach the largest part of the valley. Here I can find suitable food to forage for myself. When I reach a small overhanging tree on the side of the valley, I see several small flowers that appear to be Hawaiian Lobelioids. A rush of adrenaline bursts through me, as I haven’t feasted upon such a delicacy in nearly two weeks. I quickly descend onto a rather thin branch, just strong enough to hold me up, and with my perfectly shaped beak, I deftly sip out the sparse amounts of nectar there are.

After several hours of searching through trees of the valley, I fail to find anymore Lobelioids and I have to forage off of other, not so appetizing plants. As I am just about finished with my foraging, the sun is nearly set, and I hear the slight footsteps of what seems to be a feral cat. I let out a shrill whistle, startling the feline, giving me just enough time to jump into the air and fly away before its paw could hit me.

After another hour of soaring through the valley and finding a few small sticks to reinforce my nest, I return to my original perch. There I am able to place the sticks in my nest and store several berries and plants there.

Geneology of the I'iwi

The honey creepers farthest traced back direct ancestor is the Eurasian Rose finch which was very multi sexual and would reproduce the most in areas with more food and less predators. The I’iwi are related to most of the Islands Honey creepers and Amakihi.

Further back traces them to Eurasia where strong trade winds blew them originally to Ni’ihau and Kaua’i. The Eurasian Finches evolved into Poouli, Kaua’i and Maui creepers, Palila, and the Nihoa and Laysan Finches. From there, they evolved into modern species we know today.