Poʻouli

The black faced honeycreeper

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Who am I




I was given the name Po’ouli. I am a stocky bird and around 5.5 inches long. My name means black face. It refers to my darker feathers on my face. Both my cheeks and breast are an amazing white that turn a reddish brownish color towards the posterior. The top of my head is greyish and morphs into a dark brown on my back. Currently I am one of 5 endangered honeycreepers that live in Maui


I was discovered around 1973 by an odd group of students from the university of hawaii who seemed to be interested my my kind around 1973. I was found during the Hana Rainforest Project around 6,500 ft above sea level.

At the time I was on the north east slopes of Haleakala on Maui. Apparently I created a pretty big uproar as nothing about the honeycreeper had been found since 50 years earlier in 1923. Not only was I an unsurprising discovery but apparently they found me very different compared to any other Hawaiian bird, in fact they even believe I belong to ancient lineage of Hawaiian honeycreepers and greatly outlived my relatives.


My habitat originally was the dry half of the island of Maui according to scientist. Across the southeastern slope of haleakala to be more specific. When my group was first found there were only 200 of them a devastatingly low number. To make matters worse our family was slowly dying over the years. in 1961 there were only 76 birds per a square km, in 1985 only 15 per sq km and then in 1985 of 8 per sq km. In just 10 years our population had dropped by a devastating 90 percent For some reason during the 1980’s we decided to leave the easternmost part of our range and moved to the western brand of the Hanawi Stream. The terrain is thickly vegetated, is very steep, and we get around 350 inches of rain a year.


A large reason for the decline in my species is the destruction of our habitat. Destruction was caused by mainly pigs, and goats as well as other introduced species. The feral pigs had a very direct impact on us destroying understory vegetation, making places for mosquitoes to breed as they played in wet parts of the forest and in rooting, and spreading alien weeds across our forests.Another problem we faced was many introduced predators such as the Black and Polynesian rat, and the small Indian mongoose, all major threats to us. These foreign species not only were predators but also harbored diseases we had never experienced before killing off many of our kind and largely contributing to our decline.


Currently there are believed to be only 3 of our species left. We each live in different ranges and we don't interact with each other much. There are 2 females and me the one male. Human scientists seem to believe that they can in fact save our species and are seeking public input on what actions should be taken. The first thing that would need to be considered I believe is do we have a habitat that can support our growth in the first place. Without one it will be very hard but with there being both genders of birds with a habitat that supports our growth and assuming we breed we could perhaps one day rise to our old numbers.

Hawaiian Honeycreeper Phylogenic tree

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Connections

The black Po'ouli itself is believed to belong to very ancient lineage for its relatives unlike some species of honeycreeper.But what common ancestory do all honecreepers share? According to scientists the discovery they made was astounding. The honeycreepers closest was the roseflinch.


The roseflinches are a group of Eurasian birds and likely immigrated to Hawaii around 7.2 million years ago. Scientists also looked into the rapid evolution of honeycreepers. They believe hawaii's strange geology was the main reason things rapidly evolved. As each new island slowly formed it provided a whole new area to be colonized and for adaptions to happen.

Adaptive Radiation

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Sources

Zoo, Smithsonian National. "Hawaiian Honeycreepers." Flickr. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.


Edgar, Megan. "10 Species to See in Hawaii before Climate Change Eliminates Them d Forever." Matador Network. Matador Network, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.


GrrlScientist. "Hawaiian Honeycreepers and Their Tangled Evolutionary Tree | z @GrrlScientist." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 02 Nov. 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.


United States Geological Survey. "Climate Change Threatens Endangered Honeycreeper Birds of Hawaii." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2009.