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WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Critically endangered birds-2 The Akekee.

Courtesy of Carter Atkinson { Unites States Geological Survey  who has placed the image in the public domain.

introduction.

In this series we look at the birds that are classed as being critically endangered by the IUCN International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Here in part two we look at the species Loxops caeruleirostris an Hawaiian honey creeper.  it belongs to the family Fringillidae within the order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds}. It is a species endemic to the island of Kaua'i, where it occurs in small numbers in the higher elevations. In the past it was classed with another species the Akepe,Loxops coccineus, but this was eventually changed because of the differences in their colour, nesting behaviour and call notes,even though, they are of a similar size and have the same type of unusual bills.

Hawaii Creeper. Courtesy of ManyBirds Channel By Malcolm  Mark Swan  Standard YouTube License.

Description of the Akekee.

The Akekee is a greenish yellow bird with a black mask around the eyes,which is especially prominent in the male. They have a bluish bill,unlike the Akepa which is usually red, canary yellow or orange without any black, the Akekee has a horn coloured bill. The bill tips cross over each other,although they are not as bent as those of the Crossbill. They use their bills like scissors to cut open buds in search of insects. They also feed on the nectar of some trees.

As previously  mentioned the nesting behaviour of the two species differ, the Akepe uses tree cavities as a nest site while the Akekee  builds its nest principally of twigs high up in a tree.

Habitat--The Akekee is currently found only in the Waimea Canyon State Park, Alaka'i Wildnerness Preserve and Koke'e State Park. 

Threats and conservation efforts for the Akekee.

the threats to this critically endangered species are many but in the main due to loss of habitat the 2012 population was estimated under 5,000 individuals, in 2016 this had dropped to fewer than 1,000 individuals.

Conservation efforts--- A five year recovery plan, 'Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project' is currently preparing data describing habitat used and the breeding ecology. Very few nests of this species have ever been located or observed by biologists, due to the fact that their nests  are located very high up in the terminal branches of the Ohi'a tree.

The breeding season commences in March and it is thought that the last chicks fledge from their nests by mid-July. It is also thought that many raise more than one brood per season, in common with other honey creeper species.

According to the American Bird Conservancy " The Akekee are in serious trouble."  George Fenwick, President of the Conservancy states " The strongest available measures, such as captive breeding, fencing out and removal of invasive species, are all necessary to preserve this species from becoming extinct."

The habitats are threatened by alien  plants, feral pigs, diseases and inclement weather according to the group. This also affects another species in serious trouble the  Akikiki. Both of their habitats have lessened in recent years and both are now restricted to the higher elevations. Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and avian pox are also taking their toll.

 Their was once at least 71 endemic bird species on Hawaii in 1778, but 26 of those have now become extinct and 32 more are now listed as endangered or threatened. 

Akekee in the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Public domain ,courtesy of Hiart WikiCommons.

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Critically endangered -1 Manikin.

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Birds of the world -1 20  featuring some of the less known species of the world.

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