Check out this bill on our friend, ‘Akiapōlā‘au

Posted by Joanna Maney on

The ‘akiapōlā‘au (ah-kee-ah-POH-LAH-ow) is an endemic honeycreeper found on the island of Hawai‘i.

- These birds have unique bills that are well suited to prying the bark off trees in search of bugs and larvae. The top mandible is long and curves down more towards the end, kind of like an elegant crowbar, while the bottom mandible is much shorter.

- Males are bright yellow to a green-tinted yellow, have longer bills, are slightly bigger than the females, and sport little black Zorro-like masks. The females are muted green with touches of yellow. Their favorite trees for foraging are ‘ōhi‘a, koa, kōlea, māmane, and naio trees.

- They do a series of little taps along the lichen covered branches and once an insect is located they use their lower bill to chisel a hole through the bark and their upper bill to pry out the target.

- They usually nest on ‘ōhi‘a branches and raise one fledgling a year. The juveniles stay around the parents in family groups for 4-5 months.

- You’re only likely to see them on reforested, protected lands at elevations above 1,350 meters (4,500 feet) because they are susceptible to avian malaria spread by invasive mosquito populations and these lovely little birds are currently listed as Endangered. For more information on the good things in the works to manage these aggressive and deadly mosquitoes populations, visit

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