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State of the Birds Report

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Hawaiian Forest

'I'iwi by Jack Jeffrey

All 33 native Hawaiian forest bird species are on the Watch List; 23 are federally endangered. Hawai`i may be a tourist paradise, but it’s the bird extinction capital of the world. No place has had more bird extinctions since human settlement.

Eleven Hawaiian forest bird species have dangerously low populations of fewer than 5,000 individuals, including Palila and `Akiapōlā`au. Non-native predators and disease-bearing mosquitoes pose the biggest threats, especially to forest birds on Kauai. Mosquitoes are expanding into high-elevation forests as temperatures become warmer.

Where conservation has been enacted, there is hope. Ungulate-proof fences are effective in protecting forests. Some species (including `Apapane and Hawai`i `Amakihi) are evolving resistance to avian malaria. More Hawaiian forest birds will fight for their own survival, if people give them a fighting chance through habitat conservation.


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