First Study of Breeding Biology of Two Endangered Hawaiian Honeycreepers

(January 7, 2015, The Condor: Ornithological Applications)—A new open-access article in The Condor: Ornithological Applications presents the first comprehensive study of the breeding biology of two endangered Hawaiian honeycreepers, the ‘Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and ‘Akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris). Ruby Hammond of Northern Arizona University, along with Lisa Crampton and Jeffrey Foster, monitored populations of both birds in the remote central to their mountains of Kauai during the breeding seasons of June 2012 and 2013, investigating both their basic breeding biology and whether nest failure could be a factor contributing to their continuing population decline. They found that the breeding behavior of ‘Akikiki and ‘Akeke‘e is similar overall to that of other honeycreepers, including social monogamy, long nesting cycles, and a strong preference for nesting in ‘ōhi‘a trees. Surprisingly, estimates of nesting success for ‘Akikiki and ‘Akeke‘e were over 25% higher than the overall success rate of other Hawaiian forest birds in past studies, with no single cause dominating nest failures. Because these species’ habitat is difficult to access and funding is limited, the study’s authors suggest that future research focus on post-fledging, juvenile, and adult survival, rather than nest failure, as possible contributors to their decline. The full article is available at

'Akeke'e foraging. Photo by Lucas Behnke.
‘Akeke’e foraging. Photo credit: L. Behnke