Crested Honeycreeper / Palmeria dolei
Once found in wet forests throughout Maui and Molokai, the ornate Akohekohe, or Crested Honeycreeper, is now restricted to a relatively small area on the northeast slopes of Haleakala. Although closely related to the much more common Apapane, the status of this striking honeycreeper is unclear. It is estimated that only 1500-2000 individuals remain.
Habits: Mostly nectivorous, the Akohekohe forages almost exclusively on ohia-lehua blossoms in the forest canopy. Occasionally they can be seen picking insects and other arthropods
from branches. When ohia blossoms are scarce Akohekohe are sometimes seen visiting the flowers and fruits of other native plants.
Voice: The most common call is an upslurred whistle similar to the first note of a "wolf whistle". Other calls are similar in tone and quality but are highly variable in style. These include the low, guttural peter-peter gluk gluk and AH-kohay-kohay from which the bird probably gets its Hawaiian name.
Identification: One of the largest honeycreepers, measuring over 7 inches, the Akohekohe is also one of the most distinctive. Almost uniformly dark with silver on its face and upper breast, white tipped tail and wingtips, and bright orange on the back of the head and around the eye. Probably the most recognizable trait is the white crest on the forehead from which it gets its English name.
Occurrence: The Akohekohe is endemic to Maui and Molokai, but
today only exists on Maui in a small area between 3000-7000 feet spanning from Waikamoi Preserve south east around the Haleakala crater to Kaupo Gap.
Future Conservation Efforts: The already shrinking range of the Akohekohe continues to be threatened by the degradation of habitat caused by invasive and introduced plants and animals. It is important to understand how the Akohekohe population is affected by these threats so that we can help preserve this and other species as Maui’s native forests become more scarce.