Hawaii Amakihi

Hemignathus virens wilsoni

The Amakihi is a widespead nectivorous honeycreeper - the most common of the native green birds in Hawaii. It resembles many other birds including the introduced Japanese White-eye and the Maui Alauahio. The white-eye has a more canvas green back and has a prominent white eye-ring, whereas the alauahio tends to be more yellow and has a straight and smaller beak.

Male Amakihi are bright yellow-green birds with short down-curved bills. Interisland variation in males is slight but immatures and females vary considerably. On Maui, Molokai, and Lanai they are dull grayish green with greenish wing bars. On Hawaii, they are greener still, and wing bars are very indistinct. Females have a smaller bill than males.

 

Listen to an Amakihi

 

Habitat & Behavior

Amakihi feed in a variety of ways ranging from sipping nectar to picking over the bark of trees for insect prey. They often travel in small flocks and prefer drier and more open forest. Their call notes include a buzzy "tzeet", an upslurred "queet", and a thin "zeek". Amakihi song is a loud trill that maintains a fairly level pitch, swelling in intensity in the middle. They also have a complex, canary-like whisper song.

Distribution & Conservation

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands with two subspecies on Maui and Hawaii, Amakihi are probably the most adaptable of the native forest birds. They are abundant on Hawaii and Maui, locally common on Molokai, and extirpated from Lanai. They are found at lower elevations than most other honeycreepers, indicating tolerance or resistance for avian malaria. Read more about the Hawaii Amakihi and avian malaria here