`Apapane rely heavily on the nectar of the `ohia-lehua blossoms, which flower at very different times throughout the islands and are thought to travel far within their home islands following the flowering of the lehua blossoms. They are important pollinators of ohia-lehua and their broad movements likely facilitate a great deal of outcrossing among ohia-lehua. Little is known, however, about exact routes and patterns of movement.
Distribution: Found on all main islands, primarily in native forest. Common on Hawai`i, Maui, and Kaua`i, uncommon on O`ahu, rare on Lana`i.
Description: 5 inches. Both sexes look similar. The bodies are crimson red with a white abdomen and under tail coverts. The wings, tail, and legs are black. The bill is black and slightly curved. Juveniles are similar to adults except are a grayish-brown color. Their wings produce a distinct whirring sound in flight.
Voice: A wide repertoire of songs and calls that are very distinctive, but vary in different habitats on different islands. At least six calls and ten songs have been recorded.
Nesting: Breeding season extends at least from December until July, often with two clutches being produced by a pair in a given year. Nests are usually found in the tops of `ohia-lehua trees, though they have also been found in tree ferns, and even lava tubes. Cup-shaped nests are made of large twigs, grass, ferns, moss and lichens. Clutch size is 2-4 eggs.
Diet: `Apapane are primarily nectarivorous, but occasionally take insects and spiders, especially when feeding their young. `Ohia-lehua is their primary source of nectar in most areas, but other flowers are occasionally used.
Conservation Note: `Apapane are one of the most common native birds in Hawaiian forests. Their feathers were used to some extent in Hawaiian feather work. A distinct subspecies of `Apapane evolved on Laysan Island in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, but became extinct soon after rabbits were introduced onto the island, destroying their habitat.